Sunday 25 February 2018

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic likens Dimitri Payet to Lionel Messi

Dimitri Payet, left, wants to leave West Ham
Dimitri Payet, left, wants to leave West Ham

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic compared Dimitri Payet to Lionel Messi after his latest wonder goal.

The Hammers were trailing Middlesbrough thanks to a header from Cristhian Stuani when Payet picked up the ball out on the left.

What happened next, even by Payet's standards, was remarkable as the France star beat half the Boro team before slotting the ball past keeper Victor Valdes.

He turned Antonio Barragan on the wing, breezed past Marten de Roon on the edge of the area and then skipped away from Calum Chambers and Ben Gibson before leaving George Friend on his backside as he rolled the ball home.

It was a stunning strike which secured a 1-1 draw for the Hammers after four straight defeats.

Bilic said: " It was a great goal, a brilliant individual goal which brought us back into the game.

"I don't see many players scoring these type of goals. You see free-kicks, you see volleys, scissor kicks, all different types of goals, but this was like Messi's goals.

"It was a brilliant, brilliant moment of magic. But we can't rely on him doing that every week."

Payet's touch of genius lit up what was otherwise threatening to turn into another miserable afternoon for West Ham at their new London Stadium.

Their players were already under the spotlight after a team night out on the town on Monday reportedly went on a bit longer than it should have.

To compound the club's problems the move from Upton Park to the former Olympic Stadium is still not sitting well with some fans, as a section sang 'we should have stayed at the Boleyn' and 'Stratford's a s***hole, we want to go home'.

The atmosphere could have turned uglier six minutes after half-time when Stuani nodded in a corner, but Payet's rescue act prevented a fifth straight loss.

" That gave us a point and gave us half an hour to go on and win the game, but we couldn't win it so it's mixed emotions," added Bilic.

"We got a point after four games that we lost and showed what the team is all about, the quality and spirit.

"From that perspective I couldn't ask for more. But was it the result we were looking for? No. We wanted to beat them."

Boro have been on a pretty rotten run themselves but at least managed to avoid a fourth defeat on the spin.

"It's a good point, but I'm happier with the performance," said manager Aitor Karanka.

"We knew West Ham weren't in the best moment, but when they have players like Payet we knew we would have problems so a point was fair.

"He hasn't just scored goals like that against us. He's a top-class player and we knew that. We have to try to stop players like that, but sometimes it's difficult."

There were disturbing scenes after the match as rival fans clashed outside the stadium.

Stewards confirmed that police had to separate home and away supporters after clashes on the loop road through the Olympic Park.

Police escorted Middlesbrough fans away from the stadium while cordoning off some West Ham supporters.

The trouble followed incidents of crowd disturbances inside the London Stadium during the recent matches against Bournemouth and Watford.

Press Association

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