Dimitri Payet earns a 9/10 on his return to the West Ham starting XI
West Ham came back from a goal down to pull off an impressive 3-1 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality stadium.
With three goals in 17 second-half minutes, the Hammers stunned the Cherries who had led the game when Harry Arter shot from outside the box early on. The victory was orchestrated by returning midfielder Dimitri Payet who looked dangerous throughout.
When the Frenchman stepped up to curl a wonderful free kick into the very top corner of Artur Boruc's goal after 67 minutes, the home side visibly wilted. It was then no surprise when Payet laid on a tap-in for Enner Valencia seven minutes later, bamboozling the home defence with some superlative ball skills.
Slaven Bilic has often said that Payet is a man who inspires others to play better and that was never more evident than when Valencia himself showed what he could do from a dead-ball situation, curling in superbly with only six minutes left.
Bournemouth may be rueing some missed chances in a first half that started badly -- the Hammers had two good chances that Mark Noble and Valencia both put over the bar -- but improved immensely after Arter's 17th minute strike. The South Coast side's new signing Benik Afobe should have put Eddie Howe's men two up perhaps, but the longer the game went on the more Bilic's men improved.
This win takes the Hammers up to fifth place in the Premier League table and the only blot on the night was the sight of Andy Carroll again limping off early. With Payet back however, the Hammers will fear no-one.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Adrian, 7 -- Back after his FA Cup rest, Adrian wasn't quite as confident as normal and seemed to misjudge Harry Arter's opening goal for Bournemouth. However, the Spaniard also made two important saves.
DF James Tomkins, 7 -- A good defensive display and it shouldn't be thought he was playing poorly when he was substituted after an hour. Bilic wanted a more attacking option however and Carl Jenkinson provided the impetus.
DF James Collins, 5 -- An off day for Collins who struggled with Benik Afobe at times. Stuck to the task though.
DF Angelo Ogbonna, 5 -- Struggled with the Bournemouth forwards in the first half and the win masked some shortcomings.
DF Aaron Creswell, 6 -- Always looking to get forward.
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MF Mark Noble, 7 -- Had a glorious chance to put the Hammers ahead before Bournemouth scored and the miss could have been costly. Battled well throughout however and made several good tackles.
MF Pedro Obiang, 5 -- Still doesn't control the central areas enough and should count himself lucky that his teammates did enough to fashion a win.
MF Michail Antonio, 6 -- Always threatened Bournemouth's defence and continues to impress.
MF Dimitri Payet, 9 -- A one-man team. Started for the first time since his ankle injury in November and created several chances before scoring with a wonderful free kick. The Frenchman then used his superlative skills to lay on another goal for Valencia. With Payet in the side any game is winnable.
FW Enner Valencia, 8 -- Scored two goals -- one a superb free-kick -- providing what every Hammers fan expects from the Ecuadorian. It would be churlish to point out Valencia did little else.
FW Andy Carroll, 4 -- Looked good early on but an 11th minute knee injury will start the treatment room worries all over again.
FW Nikica Jelavic, 4 -- Replaced Carroll only in terms of wearing the same coloured shirt. One shot, zero impact.
DF Carl Jenkinson, 7 -- Came on for Tomkins after 61 minutes, adding some pace and getting in more crosses that the man he replaced. Not directly involved in any of the goals but Bilic's substitution signalled the Hammers attacking intentions and it mentally seemed to upset Bournemouth.
MF Alex Song, N/R -- Replaced Payet after 78 minutes and did enough to see out the game.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is the author of a regular column at WestHamOnline.net and the East London Guardian.