Monday musings: Poetic justice

Last November a dreadful challenge by Everton's James McCarthy sidelined West Ham's Dimitri Payet for the remainder of 2015.

So it was poetic justice when the brilliant Frenchman popped up inside the Toffees' six-yard box during Saturday's return meeting between the two clubs to score the winning goal, as West Ham recorded their first win on the Blue side of Stanley Park since December 2005.

And what an incredible win it was for Slaven Bilic's side, who were two goals behind with less than fifteen minutes of normal time remaining before staging a remarkable comeback to steal all three points, courtesy of Payet's last-minute winner.

McCarthy's awful challenge sidelined Payet for two months. Pic: Sky Sports.

Having fallen behind to strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Aaron Lennon, Adrian made a brilliant save from a (Lukaku) penalty to prevent West Ham from going 3-0 down - at which point the travelling fans must have been wondering whether the early start had been worth it!

However their patience and endeavour was ultimately rewarded as West Ham staged an epic comeback. Michail Antonio, prolific of late scored United's first on 78 minutes, the returning Diafra Sakho levelled the game three minutes later - and Payet - who else? - grabbed the winner, just as added-on time commenced.

The victory - West Ham's third in a week, following the wins against Sunderland and Tottenham - lifted Bilic's side back above Manchester United into fourth place in the Premier League, thus keeping alive the Irons' hopes of ending what is already a memorable campaign in a European position.

But which competition that will be in remains to be seen, with the Hammers now presenting a very real threat to those clubs hoping to finish in the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League.

Revenge is sweet: Payet celebrates netting the winner at Goodison Park. Pic: Twitter.

Just three points separate West Ham and second-placed Arsenal, who drew at Spurs on Saturday and whilst Bilic won't dare speak of it, a spot in Europe's premier competition is certainly within reach. Unlikely still - but who thought Leicester City would be title favourites in March!?

However all thoughts of Premier League success will be set aside for the next week or so as attention returns to the FA Cup, where a tantalising quarter final tie at Old Trafford awaits.

West Ham have enjoyed mixed FA Cup fortunes against Manchester United in recent seasons. Few present on the day will forget Paolo Di Canio's winning goal in a 2001, fourth round meeting; few who witnessed the Gary Breen-inspired 6-0 defeat two years later will wish to remember it!

More recently, in a 2013 third round tie, the Hammers were seconds away from securing a 2-1 win at the Boleyn Ground when Robin Van Persie grabbed a last-minute equaliser, taking the tie back to Old Trafford for a replay - which the hosts won 1-0.

But this is a very different West Ham team right now - and one that has every chance of turning the tables and securing a place in this year's FA Cup semi finals.

*An abridged version of this article first appeared in the Echo newspaper.

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