06 Mar Payet hammers winner
Dimitri Payet’s winner seconds before the end of normal time kept alive the dreams of Champions League-chasing West Ham against 10-man Everton.
Despite the 35th-minute dismissal of Kevin Mirallas the hosts, remarkably, were 2-0 up with three-quarters of the match gone thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Aaron Lennon.
But in a huge swing of momentum Michail Antonio and substitute Diafra Sakho struck within four minutes of each other allowing Payet to nick three points in the 90th minute.
Lukaku may have matched the feat of the great Dixie Dean in scoring against the same opponent for the eighth successive match – Dean did similarly versus Bury between 1926 and 1933 – but he missed a penalty at 2-0 and that was pivotal.
The Belgium international will never come close to matching the club’s all-time leading scorer’s astounding record of 383 goals in 433 appearances for the club – he has 60 in 117 – but an 18th of the season represented some personal success as it confirmed this as his best Premier League scoring campaign – with almost three months still to go.
His goal owed much to the first touch which took him past 17-year-old centre-back Reece Oxford, allowing to him to shoot left-footed across Adrian and in off the far post.
The move began with Lennon winning the ball in front of the dug-outs on the opposite side of the pitch. It was worked to Bryan Oviedo, who was allowed to advance unchallenged before sliding the pass into his team-mate’s feet.
Lukaku also played a huge part in the decisive second in the 56th minute, holding off Angelo Ogbonna before flicking a return pass for Lennon to nudge a shot past Adrian for his fifth goal in seven matches.
Even at a cost of £28million Lukaku has more than proved his worth to the side, but fellow Belgium international Mirallas has failed to nail down a regular place in the side.
Having made his first back-to-back Premier League starts since January, the lack of thought in the 28-year-old’s 35th-minute challenge on Aaron Cresswell was staggering.
Mirallas has form for such hot-headedness, having received a straight red card two minutes after coming on in added time at Swansea in September, and having already been booked for diving in the 16th minute he gave referee Anthony Taylor no option but to issue a second yellow card followed by a red.
Everton had benefited from the official’s decision – or lack of one – minutes earlier when Ramiro Funes Mori appeared to haul down Ogbonna, forcing him to volley wide at a corner, while goalkeeper Joel Robles saved at close range from Emmanuel Emenike.
The half-time addition of striker Andy Carroll for Oxford failed to change West Ham’s fortunes, although justice was done when Lukaku’s penalty was saved after Muhamed Besic appeared to have been tripped outside the area by fellow substitute Alex Song.
In an instant the match turned as first Antonio headed in Mark Noble’s cross and then Payet delivered for Sakho to equalise.
Sakho then turned provider as Payet once again grabbed the headlines for the Hammers.