Andy Carroll back on song as West Ham batter Baggies
West Ham 3 West Brom 1
ANDY CARROLL gave Roy Hodgson a timely reminder of his talents as he inspired West Ham to an impressive win which eased any lingering hopes of relegation at Upton Park.
Carroll has endured a difficult time in east London since he arrived on loan from Liverpool last summer, but today he battered West Brom's ailing defence in to submission.
Carroll was not in Hodgson's party for England's trip to Montenegro on Tuesday where the Three Lions struggled to hold on to the ball and failed to take their chances.
And on this evidence, Hodgson will surely considering recalling Carroll for this summer's friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.
The towering striker brushed off his marker and thumped a header past Ben Foster to put the Hammers ahead and then powered home a well-taken volley after Gary O'Neil had made it 2-0.
Carroll had been the butt of criticism from Sam Allardyce in midweek for his lack of goals, but the way he toyed with the Baggies back line, and the way he took his fourth and fifth goals for the club, may force his manager to push through plans to keep the striker beyond the end of the season.
West Ham were good value for their victory, with Kevin Nolan, Mohamed Diame and O'Neil all impressing to move the Hammers on to 36 points - two short of the figure Allardyce thinks his team will need to avoid the drop.
Allardyce, who this week said he will sign a new contract when he reaches that 38-point mark, watched his team totally dominate the Baggies today, with the visitors' only consolation coming through Graham Dorrans' penalty at the death.
Youssof Mulumbu saw red in the dying seconds for needlessly booting the ball at O'Neil.
A Hammers victory did not look on the cards in the early stages as West Brom came flying out of the blocks on biting cold afternoon in east London.
Dorrans raced up field after an errant pass from Ricardo Vaz Te and aimed a dipping shot at goal, which Jussi Jaaseklainen almost spilled in to his own net.
West Brom had the ball in the net from the resulting corner but Gareth McAuley's header was ruled out for bundling over Jaaseklainen.
The Finn then pulled off a fantastic one-handed save to deny Romelu Lukaku's deflected free-kick as West Ham's defence continued to creek.
Carroll then began to exert his influence on the game and West Ham all of a sudden looked far more threatening.
He brushed his marker off the ball to set up Vaz Te, but the Portuguese wastefully blasted over.
The England striker then broke the deadlock after 16 minutes, rising above the Jonas Olsson to thump O'Neill's corner past a stunned Foster.
The 6ft 3in targetman was in the thick of the action moments later, nodding James Collins' long punt in to path of Matt Jarvis, but he shot over from eight yards.
West Ham continued to pile on the pressure and their dominance paid off with O'Neil's goal just before the half hour.
Vaz Te charged at the West Brom defence before laying the ball off to O'Neil, who clipped the ball over a diving Olsson and Foster to make it 2-0.
The Hammers thought they should have had a penalty just before the break when Jarvis went down in the box under a challenge from Billy Jones, but Andre Marriner waved play on.
West Brom played much better after the restart, with Lukaku looking the most likely to score.
The bustling Belgian shrugged O'Neil off the ball as he cantered towards goal, but his fierce drive sailed a foot over the angle.
West Ham steadied themselves and they were soon back on the attack through Carroll.
The loanee took the ball down on his thigh after a good passing move involving O'Neil and Kevin Nolan, but Baggies defender Liam Ridgewell hooked the ball clear before Carroll could pull the trigger.
Mulumbu thought he should have had a penalty as he tangled with Collins, but referee Andre Marriner was not interested.
Substitute Peter Odemwingie provided West Brom with more energy when he came on, but Carroll put the game beyond doubt with a marvellous volley which he dispatched past Foster from Collins' long ball.
West Brom pulled one back three minutes from the end when Dorrans beat Jaaseklainen after Matt Taylor tangled with Lukaku in the box.
Mulumbu ensured West Brom's afternoon ended on a low, though, when he picked the ball up after becoming annoyed at not being awarded a foul and stupidly blasted the ball at O'Neill's back. Marriner had no choice but to show him red.
A late injury to George McCartney, who had just returned from a four-month lay-off, failed to dampen the spirits of the Hammers fans, who greeted the final whistle with a loud cheer.