Payet's masterclass ruins Rovers' dreams
Blackburn 1 West Ham 5
Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30
Strange as it seems given what followed, but there was a brief moment at the start of a masterly display when it seemed Dimitri Payet had fallen victim to that common ailment of 'new contract-itis'.
It affects many footballers with the capacity to resemble world-beaters when earning a wage which does not reflect performances, but stop delivering once a £100,000-a-week deal falls in their lap. Fortunately and thrillingly for West Ham United, in Payet's case the symptoms lasted just 20 seconds at Ewood Park.
Partially culpable for the Blackburn goal that stirred the visitors, the French midfielder was in exhibition mode thereafter.
"I need some poetry lessons to describe his importance to us. It is not just what he is doing with the ball. He is doing the dirty work too," the Slaven Bilic said.
Payet's set-piece expertise ensured Bilic's side took control of a game they never looked like surrendering once Victor Moses had equalised Ben Marshall's opener. It was appropriate Payet had the final word with his side's fifth - his second - on the stroke of full-time. He had teased, tormented and outclassed the Championship side.
Payet had decided it was time to start controlling proceedings once his side fell behind, drifting inside from the right to knit together midfield and attack. In waking up Payet, forcing him into the kind of role it is impossible to define or control, conceding first served West Ham well.
The only shock here was that West Ham initially needed inciting to assert their superiority.
The goal they conceded typified the sloppiness as Payet barely threatened to close down Marshall after a Blackburn corner was cleared, and Marshall picked out the bottom corner with his left foot.
Paul Lambert argued the game was shifted by Chris Taylor's sending-off early in the second half, but the Blackburn manager also acknowledged his goalkeeper's generosity. Blackburn's lead lasted six minutes as Moses's hopeful shot from 20 yards somehow defeated Jason Steele. It was an inexcusable error.
Taylor's second caution followed for a needless trip on Moses.
"Until the sending-off I thought we were doing very well," said Lambert. "It changes the course of the game."
Emmanuel Emenike's first goal for his new club had the away fans singing of Wembley with 26 minutes remaining. Referee Jonathan Moss, presuming Blackburn's Adam Henley has the pace of Usain Bolt, did disturb matters, the official showed a red card to Cheikhou Kouyaté for a trip outside the penalty area with 15 minutes remaining, but Henley had already miscontrolled and overrun the ball.
No matter, Payet found another defence-splitting pass and Emenike dribbled past Steele for his second and the West Ham's fourth. Payet ensured he made the final impression with his second in injury-time.