Unplayable Carroll lifts West Ham to third
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Andy Carroll displayed the attributes that once made him one of the world's most expensive players to guide West Ham to a 3-1 win over Swansea, and third place in the English Premier League yesterday.
The tall England striker scored two headed goals and also flicked on a long ball for Diafra Sakho to grab a third as West Ham came from behind at Upton Park for a third win in eight days.
Carroll is returning to full fitness after a long injury layoff, with towering performances like this showing why Liverpool spent £35 million (then $56 million) on him in 2011.
"I've played a few games and I have felt like I am back," said Carroll, back on the scoresheet for the first time since March. "Obviously, until you score, you don't feel you're definitely back and now I've got two today, it means a great deal."
West Ham has been one of the surprising teams in England, reinvented under Sam Allardyce after he was told by the club's owners that his team needed to be more entertaining this season.
Aston Villa also rallied yesterday to beat bottom side Leicester 2-1 and seal back-to-back wins that lifted the team clear of relegation trouble and into 11th place.
Right back Alan Hutton volleyed in the winner in the 71st minute after Ciaran Clark cancelled Leonardo Ulloa's 13th-minute opener for Leicester, who are four points from safety.
"It never rains, it pours," said Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, who is under pressure with his team losing seven of its last eight games and without a win since September 21.
Leicester had left back Paul Konchesky sent off in the 80th minute after a scuffle with Hutton, capping a feisty game that saw two players - Ulloa and Villa's Ashley Westwood - go off injured.
Swansea ahead in the 19th
At Upton Park, Swansea went ahead in the 19th through Wilfried Bony's seventh goal of the season, only for Carroll to leap and meet a right-wing cross with a header into the top corner in the 41st.
Carroll headed in Stewart Downing's corner for 2-1 in the 66th and glanced on a goalkeeper's clearance for Sakho to nip in front of Swansea's static defence and smash home a rising finish, also his seventh of the campaign.
Asked if it was Carroll's best display since joining West Ham in August 2012, initially on loan, Allardyce said: "I have to say it was very close to it.
"His movement and the quality of our balls into the box are very apparent."
Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was sent off in the 68th for fouling Sakho as the striker surged through on goal. The score was 2-1 at the time.
West Ham, who are six points behind second-place Manchester City, would be bumped down to fourth by the winner of today's match between Southampton and Manchester United.