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West Ham United advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 5-1 victory away to the Championship’s Blackburn Rovers.
Ben Marshall struck from the edge of the penalty area to net his fourth FA Cup goal of the season and give Blackburn a 20th-minute advantage at Ewood Park.
The visitors quickly equalised, however, through a long-range Victor Moses effort that goalkeeper Jason Steele ought to have kept out, before a fine Dimtri Payet free-kick secured the half-time lead for the Slaven Bilic’s men.
A second booking for Chris Taylor 10 minutes into the second half reduced Blackburn’s hopes of forcing a replay, and West Ham surged further ahead when Emmanuel Emenike netted on his full debut from Cheikhou Kouyate’s centre.
The numbers were evened thanks to a straight red card for Kouyate, who was adjudged to have illegally halted Adam Henley’s run towards goal, but the visitors were able to cruise to victory, thanks in part Emenike’s fine finish from Payet’s pass late on.
There was still time for Payet to complete the scoring with an excellent solo effort.
The impressive Hammers look to be in with a fine chance of lifting their first major trophy in 36 years, while Paul Lambert and his charges are left to concentrate on avoiding being pulled into a relegation fight in the Championship.
Early on in Lancashire, with a strong wind blowing at the backs of the home side, Chris Brown and Hope Akpan had half-chances.
The deadlock was broken when Marshall pulled the ball down past Payet – the Frenchman had inadvisably turned his back – and fired in a low left-footed effort, after West Ham had failed to properly clear Elliott Bennett’s corner kick.
Within six minutes of the opener, though, a simple pass forward by James Collins allowed Moses to turn and run at the backpedalling Rovers defence before whipping a shot past Steele from 25 yards.
West Ham pushed strongly for the lead goal, securing it through Payet’s excellent up-and-down strike after the attacking midfielder had been dragged down by Taylor.
Rovers started the second half well but Taylor, having been cautioned for taking down Payet, received his marching orders after clipping the breaking Moses.
A trio of fine saves from Steele denied Michail Antonio, and from one of the stops Kouyate had a goal disallowed for offside, but the stretched Blackburn defence finally conceded for a third time when Kouyate squared intelligently for Emenike to tap home from close range.
The hosts were given encouragement through the dismissal of Kouyate by Jon Moss, with the Senegal international’s left leg having tripped Henley.
However, after missing a succession of chances, it was West Ham who furthered the scoring, as Payet’s curling pass over the top was collected by Emenike, who danced around Steele and finished well.
Emenike struck the post when presented with an excellent chance to complete his hat-trick and had an effort ruled out for offside, before Payet cruised past several tired Blackburn defenders and produced an expert strike from 18 yards.
By David Maher