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Middlesbrough look to snap goal drought

By ESPN Staff

Hammers boss Zola buoyed by battling display

Gianfranco Zola believes West Ham's battling draw against Premier League leaders Chelsea at Upton Park can be the spark to turn around their miserable season.

The Hammers were denied a famous victory by a dubious decision when referee Mike Dean, on the advice of one of his assistants, adjudged Matthew Upson to have brought down Chelsea substitute Daniel Sturridge in the second half.

Frank Lampard stepped up to dispatch the equaliser at the third attempt because of players encroaching into the area.

But Zola shrugged off his disappointment with the officials to hail a rousing performance which meant his team avoided spending Christmas bottom of the table.

Zola said: "The attitude, the passion and the courage of my players was remarkable. It was a good starting point and it will affect everyone from now on.

"They were tired but they didn't look like it. They could have played another 90 minutes. In the past we played some good games but I never felt the atmosphere we had today. The players were encouraging each other, working off each other. It really was contagious.

"Everybody was involved in it. There was a positive feeling. It kept everyone very sharp. We knew the team in front of us were better than us so we had to give something more. That was the key factor. We played with passion and dragged the crowd on our side and that made the difference really. In football it is such an important thing.''

The one sour note was a hamstring injury to West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon which could keep him out of the festive period.


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