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Football

Zamora puts Hammers in Premiership


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Zamora's goal returns East London side West Ham to the Premiership.

CARDIFF, Wales -- West Ham won promotion to the English Premier League by beating Preston 1-0 in the championship playoff final - the world's richest club match.

Striker Bobby Zamora got the winner for the east London side from Matthew Etherington's left wing cross 12 minutes into the second half with his 13th goal of the season.

"Its a dream come true for me," said Zamora, a lifelong Hammers fan, while the club's relieved manager Alan Pardew said: "I'm chuffed for the fans".

West Ham, who lost the playoff final to Crystal Palace at the Millennium Stadium last year, return to the top flight of English football two years after being relegated.

Champions Sunderland and runners-up Wigan both won automatic promotion to the Premiership. West Ham finished the season in sixth place, the lowest qualifiers for the playoffs. The trio replace relegated Southampton, Palace and Norwich.

Consultants said the match was worth £35 million ($64 million) to the winners.

West Ham's Czech right back Tomas Repka almost put them in front in the fifth minute when he ran on to a through ball from the middle by Shaun Newton but shot against the near post.

Six minutes later the Londoners had what looked like a legitimate claim for a penalty waved away after Zamora was brought down by Youl Mawene.

Preston's Carlo Nash then turned Etherington's stinging shot from a Zamora pass over his bar for a corner in the 21st minute.

The second half got off to an exciting start with Newton heading a Richard Cresswell header from a corner off the West Ham line in the 49th to deny Preston their best chance so far.

Two minutes later West Ham missed three chances in as many seconds when Nash palmed away Marlon Harewood's point-blank shot, Mawene then booted Zamora's follow-up effort off the line before the Preston keeper stopped Harewood's goal attempt.

West Ham's goal was not long coming though, with Zamora, whose two goals at Ipswich Town in the second leg of the semi-final had put them in the final, involved in the build-up.

He passed the ball to Etherington out on the left before the tricky winger sent a precise cross back into the middle for Zamora to slot calmly past a diving Nash.

David Nugent shot straight at West Ham goalkeeper Jimmy Walker and Cresswell was just wide with another effort as Preston tried to find a way back into the match.

Walker twisted his knee coming out to the edge of the box to catch a high ball five minutes from time, earning a booking for handball, and was replaced by Stephen Bywater, who immediately saved Paul McKenna's low free kick as West Ham held on to win.


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