Marko Arnautovic inspires West Ham to victory over Bolton
Marko Arnautovic marked his home debut for West Ham by orchestrating a 3-0 Carabao Cup victory over Bolton at London Stadium.
The Austria playmaker was sent off against Southampton last month in only his second appearance for the club he joined for £25million during the summer, incurring a three-match ban and the wrath of Slaven Bilic despite making a series of apologies to team-mates, fans and his manager.
For fans in east London it was worth the wait as he directed play against a Bolton team rooted to the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table, expertly setting up goals for Angelo Ogbonna and Diafra Sakho before Arthur Masuaku struck an outstanding third deep into injury time.
Wanderers rarely threatened the home goal but at least put up more fight in the second half when their best chances were created.
The third-round victory continues the Hammers' improvement since their dismal start to the season, making it two wins and a draw in their last three games and setting them up for Saturday's Premier League clash with Tottenham.
How many of the Carabao Cup team will be present remains to be seen, however, after Bilic made 10 changes including the return of captain Mark Noble from a knee injury.
The mass of new faces did not prevent them from seizing an early lead, Mark Howard's jitters when dealing with a speculative long-range shot an opening-minute signpost of the one-sided first half to come.
A heartbeat later Arnautovic delivered a terrific free-kick and centre-back Ogbonna arrived at pace to head the ball home past Howard.
West Ham were ahead after only three minutes and it could have been 2-0 shortly after, only for Howard to parry away a shot by Arnautovic.
It had been a lively start for Arnautovic, though he then blazed over when put through clear on goal.
The 28-year-old was more precise on the half-hour mark, however, when he collected a high pass and set off down the left before a perfectly-weighted cut-back found Sakho who prodded home.
Bolton mustered their first meaningful attack shortly after half-time but Craig Noone made a mess of a fine cross and his tame shot trickled harmlessly wide.
Evidence of a Wanderers revival was growing, but there was a comical moment when two white shirts collided as they sought to capitalise on a promising spell, enabling West Ham to counter-attack.
Stout defending from Ogbonna halted another foray and for the remainder of the game West Ham were on the back foot until Masuaku let fly from 25 yards out to find the top corner.