Slaven Bilic likened Dimitri Payet to Real Madrid’s Luka Modric after the Frenchman inspired West Ham to a 5-1 FA Cup win at Blackburn.
Rovers, who played the last 35 minutes with 10 men after Chris Taylor’s sending-off, took the lead from Ben Marshall’s fifth goal in the last six matches, but Victor Moses’ first goal since September 19 – courtesy of an error by goalkeeper Jason Steele – and an exquisite Payet free-kick turned things around before the break.
Emmanuel Emenike added two in the second half and, after Cheikhou Kouyate had seen red, Payet fittingly finished things off with a brilliant individual effort.
“I haven’t seen better players than that. He is also doing the dirty work and on the ball he is up there with Luka Modric from the players I have trained so far,” said Bilic, who coached Modric at international level for Croatia.
“Dimitri is one of the best I have trained and every week I want those questions [about him] to continue, but it is hard to be surprised.
“I have to get some poetry lessons to describe his importance to us.”
Bilic did not agree with the red card shown to Kouyate, who sent Blackburn left-back Adam Henley flying just as he was about to burst into the penalty area.
“I haven’t seen the replay, but from my position I am not happy with that,” he added.
“I know the ball went to Randy (Darren Randolph) our keeper so it is definitely not a goalscoring opportunity.
“A foul okay, but not a red card so we are going to appeal and I think we have a really strong case.”
Blackburn boss Paul Lambert admitted his side were up against it once they had gone down to 10 men.
“Up until the second goal I thought we were doing really well. We got the goal and made a fist of it,” he said.
“The first goal was the centre of the goal and Jason nine times out of 10 would have saved it.
“He has been excellent for us this season, but he will know he should have done better. The second goal is a terrific free-kick.
“In the second half we started well and then Taylor gets the sending-off and that changes the game.”