Whiplash victim Andy Carroll ensured the Dimitri Payet saga was forgotten for 90 minutes as he fired West Ham to victory at Middlesbrough.
The England striker, whose stunning volley against Crystal Palace last weekend confirmed his return to both fitness and form, gave the visitors the lead with a brutal ninth-minute header and then helped himself to a second from close range after Cristhian Stuani had levelled in front of a crowd of 30,848.
However, the Hammers were grateful for the woodwork at the Riverside Stadium as the unwitting Stuani was denied a second equaliser by the crossbar after charging down Aaron Cresswell's attempted clearance.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Andy Carroll is on fire. 2 more goals in the first half at Boro." - Match of the Day host Gary Lineker.
Andy Carroll is a man opposition fans love to hate, and the Boro faithful had good reason to bemoan his presence on Teesside. Not only did he cruelly punish their team's defensive frailty, but he put himself about and rattled cages in the best traditions of the muscular centre-forward and was a thorn in the flesh throughout.
FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE PREDICTABLE
Carroll's superb volley against Crystal Palace last weekend sparked a fresh debate over Goal of the Season contenders. A week on, he reminded the football world of his stock in trade as he climbed to power an unstoppable header past Victor Valdes from Manuel Lanzini's corner.
The Hammers arrived in the north-east caught up in a wrangle with star man Payet and his plan to leave them. But far from tearing apart the team spirit within the dressing room, the Frenchman's stance appeared to have strengthened it on a day when the Hammers fought tooth and nail for their victory.
Victor Valdes 5
Calum Chambers 7
Ben Gibson 6
George Friend 7
Marten de Roon 7
Adam Forshaw 7
Adam Clayton 6
Cristhian Stuani 7
Adama Traore 7
Alvaro Negredo 6
Patrick Bamford (for Stuani, 80 mins) 6
Rudy Gestede (for Forshaw, 83 mins) 6
Darren Randolph 6
Sam Byram 6
Winston Reid 7
Angelo Ogbonna 7
Aaron Cresswell 7
Sofiane Feghouli 7
Mark Noble 7
Pedro Obiang 6
Manuel Lanzini 6
Michail Antonio 7
Andy Carroll 8
Edimilson Fernandes (for Noble, 54 mins) 6
Jonathan Calleri (for Carroll, 67 mins) 6
James Collins (for Feghouli, 83 mins) 6
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Middlesbrough v Accrington Stanley (FA Cup fourth round, Saturday, January 28)
West Ham v Manchester City (Premier League, Wednesday, February 1)