Football: Carroll brace fires resurgent West Ham past Middlesbrough

West Ham United's Andy Carroll celebrates scoring their first goal. PHOTO: REUTERS

MIDDLESBROUGH, United Kingdom (AFP) - Andy Carroll scored twice as West Ham added to Middlesbrough's struggles in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday (Jan 21).

The England international sent a thumping header beyond Victor Valdes to give the Hammers, who were again playing without want-away France playmaker Dimitri Payet, a ninth-minute lead.

Christian Stuani finished off a superbly constructed team move to draw Boro level before the half hour, but Carroll struck again two minutes before the break with substitute Jonathan Calleri sealing the victory at the death.

Slaven Bilic's men have now won five of their last seven matches to climb into the top half of the table, but Boro remain in 16th place after a fifth straight game without a win.

Payet's refusal to play for West Ham amidst his desire to return to Marseille has seen the Frenchman forced to train with the club's Under-23 squad and he was again left out the first-team squad for the trip to Boro.

But despite the absence of their influential midfielder, West Ham quickly found their stride with Michail Antonio slicing wide on the volley from Aaron Cresswell's cross.

The visitors went ahead soon after as Carroll rose to meet Manuel Lanzini's inswinging corner and plant a thumping header past a helpless Valdes to get on the scoresheet for the second game running.

Aitor Karanka's Boro are the league's lowest-scoring team but they hit back on 27 minutes through Stuani as the Uruguayan side-footed home Calum Chambers' pass following a passage of slick play from the hosts.

West Ham regained the lead before the interval when Carroll pounced to slot in the rebound after Valdes had kept out a fierce long-range drive from Antonio, West Ham's leading scorer with eight goals this season.

Antonio then headed over at the start of the second half while Lanzini fluffed a one-on-one with Valdes having been slipped in by Carroll.

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph turned behind a firm header from Boro's Marten de Roon as Adama Traore was proving a handful down both flanks.

And the Hammers were fortunate not to concede a fluke equaliser when Cresswell smashed an attempted clearance straight into Stuani, with the ball looping off the bar and away to safety.

Karanka introduced new signing Patrick Bamford, who scored 19 goals in 44 appearances while on loan from Chelsea in 2014-15, with 10 minutes play but West Ham wrapped up the points with Calleri's deflected effort deep into stoppage time.

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