Monday, 16 February 2009

West Ham United 1 Middlesbrough 1

Gianfranco Zola Breaks Boro's Hearts by Nick Townsend
By half-time the mood was nudging the mutinous in the toilets of the main stand. It wouldn’t have surprised Gianfranco Zola. The Italian already knows enough about the vicissitudes of Premier League club management.

“He needs to make some changes if he’s going to turn this round. We can’t lose to this lot,” muttered one Hammers’ fan darkly, alluding to a manager who, he had obviously quickly forgotten, had turned derision to approaching deification in recent weeks... Sunday Times
Middlesbrough Fail To Capitalise As Sorry West Ham Eke Out A Draw by John Ley
The curse of Gianfranco Zola returned to haunt Gareth Southgate again when Middlesbrough were seven minutes from confirming their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the fourth year in succession, before a woefully inept West Ham won a replay they did not deserve when Herita Ilunga stole a late equaliser... Sunday Telegraph
Zola's Core Values Give Hammers Reason To Be Hopeful by Simon Cass
The last time these sides met in the FA Cup, West Ham progressed to the Millennium Stadium and a heartbreaking shoot-out defeat by Liverpool, while Middlesbrough rounded off their season with a UEFA Cup final thrashing at the hands of Sevilla.

A measure of just how much West Ham and Middlesbrough have struggled for stability in the three years since is that they each started with just one player - James Collins and Stewart Downing respectively - from the teams who met in that semi-final at Villa Park... Mail
Ilunga The Copycat Leaves It Late To Keep Zola In Hunt by Daniel King
Both Gareth Southgate and Gianfranco Zola have had cause to be grateful to the FA Cup and they will live to fight another day after Herita Ilunga's late equaliser snatched a draw which West Ham just about deserved. Under Southgate's stewardship, good cup runs have acted as a catalyst for the improved league form which has saved Middlesbrough from relegation, and Stewart Downing's first-half goal seemed to have earned them a third consecutive place in the sixth round... Mail on Sunday
Ilunga Strike Keeps Zola's Dream Alive by James Wrigley
Gianfranco Zola has great affection for the FA Cup and spoke about its "unique" traditions after seeing his team stay in the competition with a late equaliser against Middlesbrough. He is finding a global audience for his passion, too. West Ham earned a replay thanks to a goal from the Congolese defender Herita Ilunga created by Savio Nseroko, a German youth international of Ugandan origin... Independent
Ilunga Strikes Late To Deny Battling Boro by Jamie Jackson
Gianfranco Zola stated ahead of this FA Cup tie that he was "very curious to see how the team reacts to a defeat." Well, what he saw will have heartened him because despite leaving it late to avoid a second consecutive defeat, broadly speaking at least, West Ham were very good. Especially because after Middlesbrough had scored when nothing seemed less likely – Stewart Downing's first-half header profiting from an amateurish attempted clearance by James Collins — Zola's team went to sleep before Herita Ilunga's 82nd-minute header levelled the tie to force a deserved replay... Observer

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