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Football: NO GO PAOLO; SUNDERLAND 1 WEST HAM 0 Di Canio is denied by 'ref union'.

PAOLO Di Canio was the centre of another penalty row that left Hammers manager Harry Redknapp baffled and bemused last night.

The Italian tumbled under a challenge from Chris Makin after an hour, but referee Neale Barry ignored his appeals for a spot-kick.

"It was a penalty - even Peter Reid said it was," complained Redknapp.

"Referees just don't give them to Paolo. Other people get them, but he doesn't.

"His great skill sends people the wrong way, gets them off-balance. They pull him down, but he doesn't get the penalty.

"It must be something to do with the refs' union because he pushed a referee. They've had a meeting and said 'we'll teach him to push Paul Alcock over'."

The penalty appeal came as West Ham were staging an impressive revival after struggling to contain Sunderland in the opening stages.

Their makeshift defence was opened up when Kevin Phillips grabbed his 30th goal of the season, but they hit back well and would have earned a point if Paulo Wanchope had accepted any of the chances that came his way.

Redknapp said: "I thought we deserved something. I had to play people in strange positions because we have 13 players out through injury."

Those injury problems meant Trevor Sinclair played most of the game at right-back, while Rio Ferdinand looked uncomfortable in the opening half-hour.

Sadly for both of them, Kevin Keegan was among the crowd at the Stadium of Light and neither did much to enhance their claims for a place in England's Euro 2000 squad.

Ferdinand was among the three central defenders embarrassed by the decisive goal in the 14th minute.

Nicky Summerbee's perfectly judged cross found the in-form Phillips unmarked to head in his 30th Premiership goal of a superb season.

Redknapp eventually moved Marc-Vivien Foe from defence into midfield and West Ham carved out chances, notably when Wanchope broke clear in the 24th minute.

The Costa Rican also fired wide shortly before the break and in the second half fired straight at keeper Thomas Sorensen from a good position.

And then he failed to find a way past the giant Dane after breaking onto a through-ball 60 seconds later.

The openings dried up once Di Canio's penalty claims were rejected and Sunderland threatened to extend their lead in the closing stages.

Phillips set up substitute Daniele Dichio in the 65th minute, but the lanky striker failed to get a decisive touch.

"We were beaten by a good goal from a fantastic striker," said Redknapp.

"His enthusiasm and scoring ability make him an excellent player. I think he should have been the PFA player of the year. He's a role model and they should have gone for him."STAR MAN: Jody Craddock.

Did well to contain Paulo and Paolo for 90 minutes.

SUNDERLAND: Sorensen 7, Makin 7, Gray 5, Thirlwell 6, Butler 5, CRADDOCK 8, Summerbee 5, Roy 7, Quinn 5 (Dichio 4), Phillips 6, Oster 4.

WEST HAM: Bywater 7; Potts 6, Stimac 5, Ferdinand 7, Sinclair 6, Moncur 7, Foe 5, Carrick 5, Kanoute 7, Wanchope 7, Di Canio 7.

MANAGER RATINGS: Reid 6; Redknapp 7.

REFEREE: N Barry 7.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Ward, Les
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2000
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