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December 4, 2006 2:00 am

Away day blues continue for Hammers

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Eggert Magnusson's takeover may be complete but for West Ham this will be a lengthy convalescence, writes Jonathan Wilson at Goodison Park. Three home wins have shown that they are beginning to learn how to walk again after the upheavals that surrounded the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at the end of August but Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Everton was their ninth in a row away from home.

Tevez started on Sunday. His performance in the first half was probably as good as anything he has produced since his arrival in east London. That he did so in just the wind and swirling rain in which fancy-dan foreigners are supposed to quail, perhaps suggests a new willing after he stormed out of the stadium on being substituted against Sheffield United last weekend.

He looked far sharper than he has, and would have laid on the opener for Lee Bowyer but for an astonishing save from Tim Howard, who somehow propelled the ball over the bar as the midfielder pinged it at him from no more than eight yards. That prompted a brief rendition of "There's only one Carlos Tevez" from the West Ham fans but the truth remains that the club has not even managed an away Premiership goal since he joined the club.

"The level of performance was high," their manager, Alan Pardew, said. "We created more than we have in other away games but we can't seem to get any bit of luck or find the net. There doesn't look to be anything wrong with the spirit. There is a good work ethic. We just needed a break."

Tevez was not the only foreign misfit to find the crowd in benevolent mood. With his injuries, spiked drinks, lost dog and burgled house, Andy van der Meyde has become a footballing Job, his misfortunes coalescing to make him a glumly comic figure.

Starting for the first time this season because of injuries to Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Phil Neville, Van der Meyde showed enough flashes of ability to have the Gwladys Stand singing his name. "He was terrific," manager David Moyes said. "The crosses he put in and the way he took people on."

The decisive contributions, though, came from two other slightly unexpected sources. Leon Osman had not scored since April but when Jonathan Spector headed James Beattie's cross to the edge of the box, he took it down calmly on his chest, switched feet and shaped a looping shot beyond Rob Green in the West Ham goal.

Vaughan's last strike was even longer ago: in April 2005 when he became the Premiership's youngest goalscorer. When Lee Carsley laid him through in injury time, though, he showed impressive composure to create room on his left foot, and then drill a finish under Green.

As Everton climbed to seventh in the Premiership, West Ham remained fourth from bottom, and that is a concern for Pardew. "We had a lot of positives today," he said, "but it is points that we need."

Liverpool were drawn against Arsenal in the stand-out tie of the FA Cup third round. Other all-Premiership matches include Manchester United v Aston Villa, Everton v Blackburn and Portsmouth v Wigan. In a clash of opposites, the league's bottom-placed club Macclesfield visit Chelsea, second in the Premiership.

Salisbury, who held Nottingham Forest to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, have the tantalising prospect of a home match against Premiership Charlton if they can win the replay.

In Scotland, Rangers lost 1-0 to Falkirk on Sunday, allowing Celtic to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

*TENNIS Russia won their second Davis Cup on Sunday after Marat Safin overpowered Argentina's Jose Acasuso 6-3 3-6 6-3 7-6 in a nerve-racking fifth and decisive rubber.

Russia, undefeated at home since 1995, went into the final day 2-1 up but David Nalbandian's defeat of Nikolay Davydenko in the day's first rubber set up a tense decider.

Former world number one Safin and Acasuso, who was a substitute for Juan Ignacio Chela in the Argentina line-up for the decider, shared the first two sets. Then the Russian broke to love in the eighth game to take the third set and won a fourth-set tiebreaker 7-5 to secure victory and start wild celebrations.

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