Two towering Andy Carroll headers helped West Ham United rise to third in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-1 win over Swansea City at Upton Park on Sunday.
Both teams went into the game having made their best starts to a Barclays Premier League campaign, but it was the hosts who maintained their momentum with a come-from-behind victory.
Swansea struck first when Wilfried Bony continued his scoring streak by slotting home a seventh goal in 10 matches and his 19th in the league this calendar year, one more than Sergio Aguero.
Carroll had not hit the back of the net for West Ham since March, but produced a trademark powerful header to end a barren run of 878 minutes before the interval. Bony went close to netting again when finding the woodwork in the second half, but it was Carroll who hit the headlines as he outjumped the Swansea defence to nod in a second-half corner. Hopes of a comeback from Swansea were severely hampered by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski being sent off soon after. Carroll then turned provider late on as Diafra Sakho raced on to his flick-on to add a third as Sam Allardyce's men made it three wins in a row.
West Ham, with Alex Song and Enner Valencia back in for Morgan Amalfitano and Mauro Zarate, looked to push forward in the early stages and had a penalty appeal turned down when Carl Jenkinson's cross struck Jazz Richards on the elbow.
Fabianski saved well with his legs from Kevin Nolan, who had failed to connect properly with an earlier chance, and the visitors made the most of those let-offs when scoring with their first real attack. Jefferson Montero played a neat one-two with Gylfi Sigurdsson before pulling back for Bony to produce a clinical side-foot finish after 19 minutes.
Ashley Williams bravely blocked a Valencia effort following a nod-down from Carroll, while Sigurdsson tested Adrian with a stinging drive at the other end. Bony was inches wide with a rasping strike from 20 yards out, before West Ham enjoyed a period of sustained pressure which ended with Carroll spectacularly heading in a Jenkinson cross with four minutes of the half remaining.
West Ham began the second period by bringing on Sakho to replace Valencia, with the Senegal striker returning from a month out with a back injury. Swansea, with Angel Rangel in for suspended defender Neil Taylor, had to soak up strong aerial assaults at the back. But the Welsh side had the first big chance after the break when Bony struck the bar from long range on the counter-attack with an hour gone.
Rangel had to be alert to clear a Sakho cross away from goal, but it proved only a brief respite as Carroll rose highest to head in a Stewart Downing corner after 66 minutes.
Things got worse for Swansea as Fabianski was sent off by Chris Foy for impeding Sakho outside his area as the striker tried to round the goalkeeper.
West Ham could have increased their lead when Sakho was left one-on-one with substitute goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, but he shot against the base of a post.
Sakho made amends for that miss, though, when Carroll headed on a long ball and he powered through to fire over Tremmel with three minutes remaining.
Carroll's hat-trick attempt was cleared off the line and Tremmel saved well from Sakho as West Ham finished with a flourish.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "The disappointing thing was the first attack Swansea had they scored but we fought back. If you did not feel like you could jump out of bed and get down here to play football there would be something wrong but the way we expressed ourselves and the quality of the goals was very much what we deserved.
"For us another three goals in the bag and a big eight days - nine points - I don't think anyone in the Premier League has done that this week. We are really flying, we have a lot of players fit. The way Alex Song controls that midfield for us is brilliant. He gets the right service to the front men. We will enjoy ourselves for a day or too and get ourselves ready for the next game."
Swansea manager Garry Monk: "We were not at the level we have been. We very much competed, it was close but we were not at the level we were and some of the mistakes have cost us. Funnily enough when we went down to 10 men we played or better football.
"When we play one touch football we can hurt teams and we showed that with our goal but we did not do that enough. Andy Carroll's first goal was from a very good cross but we lost him for the second goal, which you cannot do against any team, that is the sort of chance he waits for. The third goal was very poor defending from us."
|20 Dec 2014||v Leicester (H)|
|13 Dec 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Chelsea (A)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|01 Jan 2015||v West Brom (H)|
|10 Jan 2015||v Swansea (A)|