Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster let Carlton Cole's weak shot in the 78th minute slip through his grasp, between his legs and into the goal, giving West Ham a 2-1 win Tuesday night in the first leg of the English League Cup semifinals.

Cole's 15-yard, right-footed shot, off a cross from American Jonathan Spector, took a slight deflection off Roger Johnson before squirming through the grasp of Foster.

West Ham took the lead in the 12th minute when Spector's wayward shot across the penalty area fell to Mark Noble, whose shot went off Foster and in. Liam Ridgewell tied the score in the 56th, and West Ham's Victor Obinna was ejected two minutes later for kicking Sebastien Larsson as the Birmingham player awaited a throw-in.

Birmingham hosts the second leg of the total-goal series on Jan. 26. Tournament favorite Arsenal plays second-tier Ipswich on Wednesday in the first leg of the other semifinal.