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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Super sub Carroll is the hero for Hammers

Andy Carroll celebrates
Andy Carroll celebrates

Andy Carroll climbed off the bench to fire West Ham back to winning ways with a 2-1 success over Southampton.

The Hammers looked as though they would have to settle for a sixth successive draw after Michail Antonio’s bizarre equaliser cancelled out a Carl Jenkinson own-goal in the first half.

But Carroll, just back from yet another injury lay-off, floored Southampton with a trademark header to secure a first win in nine matches for Slaven Bilic’s side.

It was a game of two halves for the Hammers, who were dreadful in the first but came to life after Carroll and Manuel Lanzini, also back from a spell out, were introduced at half-time.

Southampton, fresh from their 4-0 Boxing Day thumping of Arsenal, took the lead with virtually their first attack of the match after 13 minutes.

A slick move saw Victor Wanyama’s header flicked on by Sadio Mane to Steven Davis, who fed Shane Long down the left-hand side of West Ham’s penalty area. Long drove in a low cross and Dusan Tadic got in front of Jenkinson to get a toe on to the ball before it went rolled over the goal-line via the Hammers defender’s shin.

Saints went on to boss the rest of the first half and Davis was denied by a brave block from James Collins before the midfielder burst forward again and fired narrowly wide.

Hammers keeper Adrian then did well to keep out a close-range header from Jose Fonte, with Wanyama blasting the rebound high over the crossbar.

Bilic had seen enough by half-time and made his double change, throwing on Lanzini and Carroll for the ineffective Alex Song and Mauro Zarate.

The move almost paid off immediately when Collins met Lanzini’s corner, but his header was cleared off the line by Cuco Martina.

Carroll should have scored when the ball came back into the area from Mark Noble, but the striker blazed over from eight yards. Instead it was Antonio, something of a figure of fun at West Ham this season, who grabbed an equaliser in comical style for his first goal for the club.

The winger embarked on a mazy run into the area in the 69th minute.

Antonio over-ran the ball and promptly fell over, but when Wanyama charged in to avert the danger his clearance hit Antonio on the head, looped up over Saints keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and into the net.

And Carroll, in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, made up for his earlier miss with 11 minutes to go when he nodded in the rebound after Antonio had headed Enner Valencia’s cross against a post.

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