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SOMEHOW, you can t help but think that life is never going to be the same at Upton Park with Italian star striker Alessandro Diamanti around, writes DAVE EVANS . The 26-year-old has a swagger about him that has not been seen in claret and blue since the d

SOMEHOW, you can't help but think that life is never going to be the same at Upton Park with Italian star striker Alessandro Diamanti around, writes DAVE EVANS .

The 26-year-old has a swagger about him that has not been seen in claret and blue since the days of Paolo Di Canio, and he also had the bravery to step up and take a vital penalty on his home debut.

Manager Gianfranco Zola was delighted with his performance: "Diamanti played a good game," he confirmed. "Apart from the goal, he was like Zavon Hines, he worked a lot for the team as well."

And what about that goal? Like John Terry in the 2008 Champions League Final, Diamanti slipped on approach. The Italian almost fell into his shot and then watched in glee and relief as Pepe Reina dived to his right and could only watch it float into the middle of the goal.


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"I think he slid a bit, but he said to me afterwards that he wanted to do that!" joked Zola after the game. "It was a new technique and that is okay."

Liverpool players surrounded the referee to complain that Diamanti had touched the ball twice, but the Italian striker was having none of it.

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"I don't care, it deserved a goal," he said emphatically. "I slipped, but I don't believe I touched it twice.

"I was trying to hit it down the middle and that is what happened. I am just sorry we lost because we played well as a team. I think we were unlucky because we played very well and we deserved more. Liverpool were not better than us."

Liverpool were aided by West Ham's ability to give the ball away and Diamanti was among the chief culprits, spurning possession far too often against a team of the class of the Merseysiders.

It is something he will have to work on, but in all, the former Livorno striker was pleased with his performance.

"It's been a great emotion to score in my first match at home," he said. "I think I played well, especially in the first half. I just tried to be focused and do what the coach asked me before the match."

Diamanti was obviously shattered by the hour mark as the fast pace of the game and his lack of recent matches took their toll, but against lesser opposition and when he reaches full match fitness, the striker could be one of the finds of the season in the Premier League.

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