West Ham United striker Diego Tristan stole a 2-1 win over 10-man Stoke City after Potters striker Ricardo Fuller was sent off for punching his own teammate at Upton Park on Sunday.
Tristan’s first goal for the Hammers was perfectly timed with two minutes to play after Carlton Cole had canceled out Abdoulaye Faye’s early opener for Stoke.
But Tony Pulis’ side had only themselves to blame for the result after Fuller was sent off in the second half for taking a swipe at Andy Griffin.
The bizarre flash point came just moments after Cole’s equalizer as Fuller lost his cool following a row with Griffin over who was responsible for the goal.
West Ham had taken just one point from their last six home games and looked set for more misery in front of their own fans when Stoke scored after four minutes.
Fuller tested goalkeeper Robert Green after capitalizing on a sloppy pass from Luis Boa Morte and from the resulting corner Faye headed home at the far post.
Cole had a glorious chance to equalize immediately after the restart, but side-footed Jack Collison’s left-wing cross wide, while Hammers defender Matthew Upson also headed wide in the opening exchanges.
Stoke threatened again when Richard Cresswell’s chipped effort forced a stretching save from Green.
The visitors were pushed back after that and keeper Thomas Sorensen did well to claw Herita Ilunga’s teasing left-wing cross away from Cole, who had already volleyed over the bar from just inside the box.
Cole then wasted the Hammers’ best chance of the half when he headed over following excellent work on the right by David Di Michele.
West Ham piled on the pressure again after halftime and scored a deserved equalizer in the 51st minute.
Cole controlled Scott Parker’s chip into the area, got a fortunate deflection and swiveled on the loose ball to curl his shot into the far corner.
Stoke’s frustration at conceding boiled over in spectacular fashion as Fuller and Griffin became embroiled in an angry exchange that ended with Fuller being sent off by referee Michael Jones for throwing a punch at his teammate.
Scenting blood, West Ham poured forward and could have gone ahead, but Cole volleyed wide before Parker and Di Michele both fired over.
Boa Morte’s scuffed shot was cleared off the line by Danny Higginbotham and Parker screwed a shot wide from outside the box.
The pressure finally paid off in the 88th minute when Spanish substitute Tristan deflected in Cole’s shot for the winner.
Also on Sunday, Everton won 3-0 at home to Sunderland as Ricky Sbragia’s first match since being confirmed as the Black Cats full-time manager in succession to Roy Keane ended in defeat.
Mikel Arteta put Everton in front with a 25m free-kick in the 10th minute at Goodison Park and the Spanish midfielder doubled the lead 17 minutes later with a deflected shot after another free-kick had been blocked.
Dan Gosling added a third seven minutes from time to keep Everton on track for a European place.
At the Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion beat 10-man Tottenham Hotspur 2-0. Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto got a straight red card 10 minutes before halftime for a foul on Gianni Zuiverloom. But it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Roman Bednar scored for the Baggies, before Craig Beattie added a second.
In the day’s other game, Egyptian star Amir Zaki scored from the penalty spot to give Wigan Athletic a 1-0 win at Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers.