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 By Peter Thorne

Five-star West Ham put Blackburn to the sword in FA Cup

West Ham came from a goal down to demolish Championship side Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the fifth Round of the FA Cup.

The 7,000 travelling claret and blue faithful were evident throughout the game and the match virtually became a home fixture after the Hammers had taken the lead following another sublime Dimitri Payet free kick on 36 minutes. Blackburn had shocked the Hammers on 20 minutes when Ben Marshall lashed home from outside the box, but the Rovers' lead only lasted six minutes. When Victor Moses was allowed to travel into yards of space to score his own similar long-range effort, the game changed completely.

When Chris Taylor saw red for a second bookable foul just before the hour mark, even the most strident Rover's fan knew the game was lost. Taylor looked bereft as he left the pitch. Understandably, he will want to forget his afternoon as it was his first foul on Payet that had allowed the Frenchman to curl in his free kick.

Taylor's dismissal was the end of the game in terms of a cup upset and even Cheikhou Kouyate's dismissal 20 minutes later failed to level things up as the Hammers were 3-1 to the good by that time. Kouyate's straight red for a last defender foul on Adam Henley looked harsh -- even later slow motion replays seemed to suggest the Blackburn player had fallen over -- but for once, the manager could feel magnanimous about the decision.

The final 20 minutes became little more than an exhibition match for the East Londoners as they passed the ball extravagantly leaving the Blackburn defenders to chase shadows. Emmanual Emenike scored twice to open his Hammers account to the delight of the fans; the Nigerian not only looked sharp but several darting runs indicated the 28-year-old has a good turn of speed that will cause even Premier League defences to think fast. The moment everyone wanted arrived in injury time when Payet ran the whole length of the Blackburn half, turning in and out, jinking past defenders before lashing home. It was a glorious moment to underline a thoroughly convincing performance.

Later news that the Hammers had been paired with either Shrewsbury or Manchester United in the next round is unlikely to cause much more than a flutter of doubt. The Hammers approach their final season at the Boleyn with a growing sense of destiny and the team understandably believe they can beat anyone on their day.

Blackburn RoversBlackburn Rovers
West Ham UnitedWest Ham United
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Darren Randolph, 7 -- The former Birmingham keeper, trusted in front of Adrian in Cup matches, had little to do bar pick the ball from the net after 20 minutes. Ben Marshall's low strike from outside the box that put Blackburn ahead found Randolph unsighted and initial criticism of the keeper seems unfair.

DF Michail Antonio, 8 -- Antonio was apparently playing some type of wing-back role but it was difficult to tell completely. The winger filling in at right-back got forward at will -- occasionally ending up as a centre-forward -- and caused Blackburn's defence no end of problems in a superb display of box to box football.

DF Angelo Ogbonna, 6 -- Solid throughout and looks to have grown into his centre-half role since his spectacular winner against Liverpool in the last round of the cup. Replaced late on mainly because he had no-one to mark.

DF James Collins, 7 -- Won every header and was at the end of every clearance defensively, yet spent most of the match surging forward to join the attack.

DF Aaron Cresswell, 6 -- Had an easy day defensively and got forward at every opportunity.

MF Pedro Obiang, 6 -- Obiang is one of those players who doesn't always seem to contribute anything to a game but who nonetheless often seems to be on a winning side. Replaced by Manuel Lanzini after 67 minutes.

Dimitri Payet put on a great display as the playmaker for the Hammers against Blackburn.

MF Mark Noble, 7 -- Bossed the midfield so comprehensively that Slaven Bilic took him off for a rest with 20 minutes to go.

MF Cheikhou Kouyate, 6 -- Several surging runs had Blackburn on the back-foot and Kouyate had most of the better early chances. Although the red card shown after 75 minutes for the trip on Henley meant Kouyate's afternoon came to an abrupt end, it wasn't altogether clear if the Blackburn player hadn't fallen over his own feet. No supporter likes to see the deliberate last-man 'professional foul' but the Senegalese international was either unlucky or took one for the team.

MF Victor Moses, 7 -- A return to form after injury for the Chelsea loanee; Moses had acres of space to score the equalising goal for the Hammers and probably got a bit lucky with the bounce deceiving the Rovers keeper Jason Steele. The winger performed well all afternoon however and deserved his break.

MF Dimitri Payet, 9 -- Break out the dictionary again and find another word for superb. The fascinating thing about Payet is, when the free-kick was awarded against Taylor and the Frenchman lined up to take the kick, everyone knew where it would go -- but no-one could do anything about it. The mark of a man at the very top of his game, Payet's mazy run and shot for West Ham's fifth goal resembled a father playing against young children on the beach. Blackburn defenders could only watch and wonder. Just sublime.

MF Emmanuel Emenike, 8 -- Hammers fans are understandably delirious; is it possible that a proper goal-scorer has joined the club and supporters will no longer need to search the treatment table for hope? The Nigerian forward scored two, was unlucky not to get a third and looked dangerous throughout. What's more he looked delighted to be wearing the shirt. There will be tougher days but Emenike looks like a good signing.


MF Manuel Lanzini, 7 -- Lanzini's return is another boost for Bilic, who saw his team winning so comfortably that he was able to give the Argentinean midfielder a welcoming run-out. Lanzini's 23 minutes on the pitch suggested the player will have little difficulty in slotting back into the first team.

MF Alex Song, N/R -- Came on for the captain after 73 minutes and gleefully joined in with the general attacking play.

DF Reece Oxford, N/R -- Replaced Ogbonna after 78 minutes and slipped comfortably into the defence.

Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.


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