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West Ham 1 Middlesbrough 1: Payet stunner ends Hammers´ losing streak

Dimitri Payet’s stunning solo goal salvaged a point for struggling West Ham as they ended a run of four consecutive Premier League defeats in a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at London Stadium.

Cristhian Stuani’s second-half header put the away side ahead and had the home fans fearing a fifth defeat on the spin in Saturday’s contest.

However, Payet stole the show for the Hammers, the France international leaving the Boro defence in a daze with a superb run and clever finish to level the match in the 57th minute.

West Ham went closest to breaking the deadlock in a first half that saw few clear-cut chances when Mark Noble rattled the woodwork with a thunderous strike.

The match sparked into life after the interval with goalline technology confirming Stuani’s opener before Payet’s moment of magic restored parity.

But neither side could find a much-needed winner and Middlesbrough remain two-points and two places above 18th-placed West Ham, with Aitor Karanka’s men themselves now winless in their past five league games.

Bilic rang the changes in a bid to halt West Ham’s run of defeats including playing without a recognised striker as Michail Antonio replaced Simone Zaza up front.

The Hammers have been beset by injuries this term and their situation worsened in the fifth minute when Sam Byram was taken from the field on a stretcher with a hamstring injury.

Shortly after, Middlesbrough forged the first opportunity when Viktor Fischer flashed a low effort across the face of goal.

West Ham grew into the match and Payet became more influential, with the playmaker seeing a close-range shot blocked before hitting a blistering strike wide.

The home side continued to press and George Friend did well to prevent Antonio’s header reaching the target, while Noble saw a low shot from the edge of the area inch past the upright.

Noble then went agonisingly close on the stroke of half-time as his dipping effort clattered the underside of the crossbar.

Bilic introduced Zaza as West Ham looked to build some momentum after the restart, but it was Middlesbrough who gained the upperhand as Adrian parried Jordan Rhodes’ strike wide.

And the visitors had the lead from the resulting corner, Stuani rising highest to power a header goalwards that Noble could not prevent going over the line.

Middlesbrough’s lead was short-lived, though, as Payet turned on the style with a mesmerising run from the left touchline, taking on five defenders before sliding a sublime reverse finish into the bottom-left corner.

Payet was at his best again on the hour-mark, bursting onto Zaza’s flick and drawing a foul from Marten de Roon, but the ex-Marseille man could not make the resulting free-kick count.

West Ham continued to mount the pressure and Victor Valdes had to be alert to stop Cheikhou Kouyate smuggling home from a corner.

And the hosts should have had a late winner when Antonio engineered space for himself in the area, but the winger could only blaze his strike over as West Ham’s winless streak in the league was extended to five matches.

Sat 1 Oct, 2016
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