Zat Knight's crazy tackle gave West Ham the 88th-minute penalty which ended Fulham's eight-game Loftus Road unbeaten streak tonight.
The centre-back's two-footed lunge on Jermain Defoe earned him a deserved red card - and Paolo di Canio added to his misery by stroking home from the spot to clinch a 1-0 victory.
Fulham had earlier had a dubious offside flag and woeful West Ham finishing tothank for not falling behind. Defoe had a goal ruled out for offside when he appeared level with the lastdefender. And di Canio, Joe Cole and Trevor Sinclair spurned a succession of chances forthe visitors.
Fulham improved after the break - but Knight's stupid tackle allowed di Canioto clinch the improving Hammers' second win on the spin.
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson may be on holiday in Rome, but his assistant Tord Grip was watching from the stands tonight, no doubt to report back on David James' performance as Eriksson considers dumping David Seaman. The West Ham goalkeeper made the 500th club appearance of his 12-year careertonight. But Hammers striker Frederic Kanoute lost his fitness battle with a groin problem.
For the Cottagers, who discovered today their hopes of building a new super-stadium just minutes from their Loftus Road home have been dashed, boss Jean Tigana made a raft of changes.
Midfielder Sean Davis is out for up to six weeks with a fractured toe, while forward Louis Saha faces another month out with his hamstring injury.
But French defender Martin Djetou, on loan from Parma, made his debut in thesecond period after a three-month lay-off with a knee cartilage problem.
Defoe had the ball in the net in the fifth minute, but his 'goal' was ruledout by a questionable offside flag. Cole fed his fellow England Under-21 star, who burst beyond Knight and firedpast Edwin van der Sar - only for his celebration to be cut short by theassistant referee.
Glenn Roeder's men had two more great chances after an Andy Melville blooper.
He misjudged a long punt upfield and van der Sar saved Fulham with a greatblock from Defoe. Cole's follow-up effort was deflected wide.
Knight followed the lead of his centre-back colleague Melville and handed the Hammers another golden chance after 21 minutes.
The young defender completely misjudged a cross and headed it into the path of di Canio.
Luckily for the home side, the mercurial Italian was in one of his morewasteful moods and produced an embarrassing air-shot when it seemed easier to score.
Roeder's side were peppering the Fulham goal now, with di Canio's delightfulflicked lob teeing up Sinclair, who brought a fine tip-over from van der Sar with a spectacular scissor-kick.
And Cole burst past four Cottagers players to bring another stop from van derSar as the Hammers pressure mounted.
Tigana threw on Djetou for the ineffective Junichi Inamoto at the start of thesecond period. The game burst into life just before the hour, with Christian Dailly's headerfrom di Canio's corner forcing van der Sar into action again.
And 30 seconds later, at the other end, Ian Pearce made a vital block whenMarlet connected with Boa Morte's pull-back. With 71 minutes gone, James was grateful to see Steve Finnan's dangerous crossdeflect off Tomas Repka and bounce invitingly into his grasp.
Di Canio produced a trademark moment of magic with six minutes left, but vander Sar back-pedalled to gather his spectacular 25-yard volley.
And there was drama in the 88th minute when a stupid Knight challenge on Defoegave West Ham the penalty which won the game and earned himself a red card.
The Fulham centre-back up-ended Defoe in full flight with a wild two-footedtackle - and after referee Rob Styles sent Knight off, di Canio coolly beat vander Sar from the spot.