Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike marked his first start in a West GHam shirt with two goals as the Hammers conveniently saw of Blackburn Rovers 5-1 at Ewood Park to progress into the next round of the FA Cup.
Slaven Bilic’s side secured their place in Sunday night’s FA Cup draw with goals from attacking trio Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet and Emenike.
More than 7,235 West Ham fans made the trip from east London to Ewood Park, only to see their side fall behind to a sublime finish by Blackburn’s Ben Marshall with just 20 minutes of the game gone.
But the hosts’ lead didn’t last for long with Moses equalising six minutes later before Payet’s stunning free kick and, in injury time, Emenike scored the first of his two goals in claret and blue in a game in which both sides ended the match with 10-men.
West Ham have not won a major trophy for 36 years but, in their final season at the Boleyn Ground, are hoping that they can take the FA Cup with them to the Olympic Stadium.
Bilic has previously said he would rather win the trophy than finish in the Premier League top four, and he showed his intent by picking a near full-strength side against the Championship strugglers.
And, despite that brief early scare after Marshall’s opener, the visitors never looked like becoming the victim of a cup upset.
The Hammers, who had won just one of their previous 10 away matches, completely controlled the tie after Taylor’s dismissal, with Blackburn constantly stretched by their pace and sharp movement.
“The sending-off was completely needless and changed the course of the game,” said BBC Radio 5 live summariser Mark Lawrenson. “I’m not saying West Ham wouldn’t have won but they wouldn’t have won so easily.”
France attacking midfielder Payet has been the star of West Ham’s season, impressing plenty of observers since his summer move from Marseille with his vision, poise and technical ability.
The 28-year-old showed again why he is pivotal to the Hammers’ hopes of winning the FA Cup with a masterful performance at Ewood Park.
He put the visitors ahead with a trademark free-kick, arcing the ball over the Rovers wall from almost 30 yards and into the corner.
Not for the first time this season, Payet was not always constantly involved in the game – but it is his ability to burst into life with devastating effect which is so impressive.
In the final stages, his precise throughball teed up Emenike’s second goal before sealing the match with a wonderful solo run and finish.
Payet has now been involved in 17 goals in all competitions for the Hammers since his arrival, scoring nine goals and providing eight assists.
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