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Middlesbrough 1 West Ham 3: Rejuvenated Carroll makes the difference

Andy Carroll was once again West Ham's inspiration in the absence of Dimitri Payet, scoring twice to secure a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough.

Carroll lit up last weekend's Premier League action with a stunning bicycle kick in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace and he was equally impressive at the Riverside on Saturday.

The England striker's goals were the product of brawn and brain, thundering in a header from a corner before neat movement helped him convert a spilled shot from distance.

Carroll has now scored in consecutive league games for the first time since April last year, but typical concerns clouded his performance - an apparent groin injury ending his match early, after a week spent recovering from whiplash sustained scoring his stunner a week ago.

Christhian Stuani had equalised Carroll's first strike and the Uruguay striker hit the bar in the second half, but Boro's fightback was stifled and Aitor Karanka's unwillingness to divert from Plan A - a growing concern on Teesside - perhaps cost them here.

Jonathan Calleri's deflected effort in stoppage time wrapped up a victory for West Ham that lifts them into the top 10 and will also ease the pressure on Slaven Bilic as the Hammers boss plots what to do with the disgruntled Payet amid reports of a fresh bid from Marseille for the want-away winger.

There was no discontent for Bilic on the pitch though.

Michail Antonio glanced wide from six yards as the visitors started on the front foot and they took a deserved lead in the ninth minute.

Bernardo completely lost Carroll, allowing the striker to power unchallenged into the six-yard box and plant a header beyond Victor Valdes.

Boro's initial attempts at a response were sloppy, with aimless passing routinely letting them down until they equalised in superb fashion.

One-touch play between Marten de Roon and Alvaro Negredo freed Adama Traore on the right and he released Calum Chambers, whose low cross was perfect for Stuani to steal in at the back post and finish.

Boro's advances fell short as they looked to get ahead and West Ham retook the lead prior to the break, Carroll smartly bending his run to finish on the rebound after Valdes spilled Antonio's shot.

Antonio headed over and Manuel Lanzini finished weakly when one-on-one as Bilic's side once again flew out of the traps in the second period, but De Roon brought a fine sprawling save out of Darren Randolph after Traore found space down the left.

More fine work from Traore opened up a gap for Negredo to cross and it almost paid dividends as Aaron Cresswell's clearance ricocheted off Stuani and hit the bar.

But the game was in the 80th minute when Karanka made his first change - Patrick Bamford making his second Boro debut in place of Stuani.

Fellow substitute Rudy Gestede was another late throw of the dice for Boro and he hit an acrobatic shot wide, but Boro's late charge for a goal cost them as Antonio led a four-on-two counter and Calleri's first Hammers goal wrapped up a deserved win.

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