Zola thrilled with ‘massive’ win

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola hailed the character of Scott Parker

and the rest of his players after the 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.

Alessandro Diamanti’s penalty and Radoslav Kovac’s late

header earned the three points at Upton Park, leaving Pompey rooted

to the bottom and boosting hopes of the Hammers beating the drop by

climbing out of the relegation zone.

“It was a fantastic win, a massive one,” said Zola. “I rated

this as a six-point game, it was so important for the table and for

morale.

“The boys won it with a lot of character and it will be a big

boost for everybody.”

He may not have got on the scoresheet but Parker was the

clear man of the match with his box-to-box display.

“He is so important,” Zola said. “You can’t even measure it.

He leads with his enthusiasm and example and I feel lucky to have a

player like him.”

Zola is hoping his side can repeat their efforts of last

season when a Boxing Day victory against Pompey sparked a run that

saw them climb the table.

“Hopefully it will be the same as last year,” the Italian

said. “We will face games now with a bit more security.

“In this period coming up I think we can do something

important.”

The only negative aspect of the afternoon was a hamstring

injury to Mark Noble that is expected to keep the midfielder out of

Monday’s clash against Tottenham.

“He felt his hamstring and had to come off,” Zola confirmed.

“I think he’ll be out for Monday.”

Pompey boss Avram Grant could only bring on Kevin-Prince

Boateng at half-time as the midfielder was ill prior to the match.

“Boateng had a virus so we couldn’t play him for the start as

he hadn’t trained all week,” he said. “In the second half we

dominated the game apart from a few counter-attacks. The game

didn’t start well for us and we conceded a ninth penalty of the

season.”

Grant loses four players to the African Nations Cup, while

Jamie O’Hara will miss the game against Arsenal next week through

suspension.

There is still uncertainty over whether Pompey will be

allowed to make transfers in January due to their financial

situation, with Grant adding: “We will know this week.”

The former Chelsea boss is still positive about staying up.

“Everything is possible,” he said. “We have the quality to win.

I’ve said so many times and I’m not a person to change my mind.”