Sakho comes in from cold to res­cue Bilic

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - ANDY SIMS

West Ham 1 Swansea 0

DI­AFRA Sakho came in from the cold to hit a last-minute win­ner and dig West Ham man­ager Slaven Bilic out of a hole.

The London Sta­dium was al­most in open re­volt fol­low­ing an in­sipid 89 min­utes from the home side against Swansea. But Sakho, who if he had got his way on trans­fer dead­line day would now be in France play­ing for Rennes, climbed off the bench to se­cure a 1-0 win and bail out his boss.

Even Bilic had branded this a “must-win” game, and he should know — so pre­car­i­ous has his po­si­tion looked at times that West Ham have had about 10 in the last 12 months.

The credit that the Croa­t­ian built up dur­ing the final season at Up­ton Park seems to have evap­o­rated, if the boos which rang round at his de­ci­sion to sub­sti­tute Javier Her­nan­dez are any­thing to go by.

Yet West Ham are some­how now out of the bot­tom three, and with games against Brighton, Burn­ley and Crys­tal Palace com­ing up, Bilic will feel they can climb away from trou­ble.

The Ham­mers did actually al­most open the scor­ing early on, Lukasz Fabi­an­ski at full stretch to palm Michail An­to­nio’s ef­fort wide. In keeping with the rest of a truly aw­ful first half it was a scrappy, scuffed shot which looped up off the turf, but it still re­quired a de­cent save.

At the other end Wil­fried Bony checked Joe Hart was still awake with a 25-year drive which the Eng­land keeper ex­trav­a­gantly palmed wide.

The fact that it was only Swansea’s 11th shot on tar­get this season il­lus­trated what lit­tle at­tack­ing threat West Ham were up against — and yet the vis­i­tors were in total con­trol.

It was worse than the sort of fare served up by Sam Al­lardyce which irked the fans so much and even­tu­ally cost him his job, to be re­placed by Bilic.

There was even a smat­ter­ing of boos from some of the sup­port­ers who had managed to stay in their seats un­til the half-time whis­tle.

After the break An­to­nio sent in a deep cross which Andy Car­roll, stretch­ing at the far post, just failed to get a touch to.

Bilic sent on fit-again play­maker Manuel Lanzini, for the in­ef­fec­tive Mark Noble, on the hour mark in a be­lated at­tempt to inject some life into pro­ceed­ings.

Yet still Swansea posed the greater threat, with Martin Ols­son send­ing a curl­ing ef­fort nar­rowly wide.

Bilic turned to Sakho — for Her­nan­dez — and Arthur Ma­suaku for in­spi­ra­tion, and it even­tu­ally ar­rived. Car­roll had al­ready turned one Ma­suaku cross against a post and when the winger whipped in a sec­ond, Sakho ar­rived on cue.

The Sene­gal striker, yet to start a Pre­mier League game since his dead­line-day shenani­gans, slid in at the far post to snatch a scarcely de­served, but po­ten­tially huge, three points.

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