West Ham’s Emmanuel Emenike and Dimitri Payet run riot at Blackburn
Blackburn Rovers made to pay for Chris Taylor’s needless sending off
Dimitri Payet scores West Ham’s fifth goal in the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters/Livepic
Blackburn Rovers 1 West Ham United 5
It was 2-1 to the visitors in the 55th minute and the tie was in the balance. Rovers’ early lead had been overturned but their start to the second half was promising and they had West Ham on the rack, until Taylor decided to take out Victor Moses in a no-man’s land near the centre circle. Jonathan Moss, the referee, showed Taylor a second yellow card and West Ham scored three more times to coast home, despite having Cheikhou Kouyate sent off themselves.
This was the day’s only tie that featured a non-Premier League club. West Ham’s lofty position of seventh and Rovers’ lowly position of 19th in the Championship would further enhance the shock-factor should Paul Lambert’s men manage to knock out those of Slaven Bilic.
The Scot’s side are eight points above the drop zone, a comfortable cushion, yet Lambert still chose to make five changes – to Bilic’s four – resting Corry Evans, Grant Hanley and Jordi Gomez, who would usually make the strongest XI here.
For this, Lambert cited 11 games in 31 days and a “massive game” on Wednesday against Derby County, but it seemed a shame he did not wish to field more of his better players to have the best chance of Rovers progressing.
When Ben Marshall gave them the lead, Lambert’s selection appeared vindicated, however. The right back had also begun the scoring with a penalty in the 3-0 victory over Fulham in Rovers’ previous outing.
This time he registered from open play. Twenty minutes were gone when Elliott Bennett swung in a corner from the right. This was headed out by Michail Antonio and bounced into Marshall’s path. Dimitri Payet should have stood firm. Instead, the Frenchman jumped away to shield himself from the ball and Marshall’s 25-yard finish went low, expertly aimed past Darren Randolph’s left hand.
This was about a fair reward for Rovers’ early share of the ball, though they held the lead for only six minutes. The equaliser was the kind of goal Lambert - and all managers – hate conceding, as the Chelsea loanee Victor Moses was allowed to run free before firing home a 20-yard effort beyond Jason Steele.
This had the 7,000 Irons fans partying in their end and it presaged West Ham pinning Rovers back for most of the half’s remainder. By the break the travelling contingent had witnessed a second. This arrived from a Payet free-kick which the same player won, after a trademark mazy run caused Taylor to commit a foul and receive his opening booking. Now, from a position to the left side of the home penalty spot, Payet stepped forward and bent in a 25-yard humdinger that was an eighth of his first season for the team.
Payet celebrated this by running into Bilic’s arms but as the half closed the manager might been seriously unhappy when James Collins passed straight into Taylor’s path near halfway. This allowed the latter to burst forward at Randolph and West Ham only stopped him inside the area.
To get back into the contest Rovers required more of this positivity, this grabbing of the initiative. The second half began in such fashion, Marshall – again on his left boot – taking aim at Randolph’s goal, and the home side spending a prolonged time playing in and around West Ham’s area.
Yet Taylor was about to commit the crime of senselessly hacking down Moses and off the 29-year-old trudged, some Rovers supporters furious at him, and Taylor appearing close to tears.
Rovers were in serious difficulty and West Ham pushed forward in ruthless mode. First Antonio tested Steele, then from an almost identical position near the right of the six-yard box Mark Noble went close. Kouyate went even closer when he did bundle the ball into the goal but he was adjudged offside, it appeared wrongly.
If this gave Rovers a life, moments later the game was over. With West Ham enjoying plenty of space, Kouyate found Emmanuel Emenike near Randolph’s goalline and he finished for a first strike for the club.
On 75 minutes Kouyate received his own red card, for a clip of Adam Henley’s heels as the left back surged clear. But this came too late. All it meant was an even-sided match again – 10-v-10 – and West Ham continued to dominate with ease.
On 84 minutes, Emenike scored again, to send some of the sparse 18,793 crowd home early, and Payet, too, also for his second, in added time.