Blackburn Rovers 1, West Ham United 5
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic compared Dimitri Payet to Real Madrid star Luka Modric after the playmaker inspired a five-goal drubbing of Blackburn to send the Hammers into the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Championship side Rovers took a shock lead through right-back Ben Marshall but winger Victor Moses quickly equalised and Payet’s free-kick put the visitors ahead before half-time.
Blackburn played the last 35 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Chris Taylor was sent off and West Ham took advantage despite also having Cheikhou Kouyate dismissed later, on-loan striker Emmanuel Emenike netting twice before man-of-the-match Payet completed the rout to set up a last-eight trip to Shrewsbury Town or Manchester United.
“I have to get some poetry lessons to describe his importance to us,” former Croatia boss Bilic said of Payet. “On the ball he is up there with Luka Modric from the players I have trained so far. Dimitri is one of the best I have trained.”
Marshall put the hosts ahead on 20 minutes when he sold Payet a dummy on the edge of the penalty area and swung at a hopeful left-footed shot that sneaked into the bottom right corner.
Six minutes later Moses levelled, however, when he ran at a backpedalling defence and drilled low past Jason Steele from 25 yards and Payet scored the Hammers’ second from similar range with a precise free-kick.
Taylor’s dismissal for a second booking effectively ended Blackburn’s hopes and Emenike increased West Ham’s lead by tapping in from close range before Kouyate too saw red for a professional foul.
Emenike rounded the goalkeeper as the visitors heaped misery on ragged Rovers and Payet crowned a virtuoso performance in injury time by slicing through the home defence and steering a shot past Steele.