Bilic credits West Ham players for half-time turnaround

Date published: Tuesday 29th December 2015 9:31

Slaven Bilic: Dream finish at Upton Park

Slaven Bilic says West Ham’s players deserve all the credit for their second-half revival in the 2-1 victory over Southampton.

The Hammers were fortunate to come in at the break only 1-0 down, courtesy of Carl Jenkinson’s own-goal, after a dreadful first-half display.

But Upton Park boss Bilic threw on fit-again Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini for the second half and the substitutions swung the game in their favour.

Michail Antonio grabbed a fortuitous equaliser before Carroll – back from yet another injury lay-off and sporting a bizarre, corn row-style hairdo – nodded in the winner.

“As long as he scores goals I don’t care about his hairstyle,” said a smiling Bilic afterwards.

“It was the players who changed the game. Otherwise you could ask what I told them before the game to make them play so bad. It was them who changed the character, the apporoach.

“At half-time I didn’t tell them to go out and win the game, I just asked them to go out and give Southampton a game because we were really poor, it couldn’t have been any worse.

“In the end, though, I thought we totally deserved it.”

Southampton took the lead with virtually their first attack of the match after 13 minutes when Dusan Tadic got in front of Jenkinson to get a toe onto Shane Long’s cross, with the ball rolling over the goal-line via the Hammers defender’s shin.

But West Ham were transformed after the break and it was Antonio, something of a figure of fun this season, who grabbed an equaliser in comical style for his first goal for the club.

The winger, dubbed the ‘missing man’ after chairman David Gold inadvertently retweeted a photo of him posted by a prankster looking for information about a missing friend, embarked on a mazy run into the area in the 69th minute.

Antonio over-ran the ball and promptly fell over, but when Wanyama charged in to avert the danger his clearance hit the floored player on the head, looped up over Saints keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and into the net.

Then Carroll, in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, made up for a bad earlier miss with 11 minutes to go when he nodded in the rebound after Antonio had headed Enner Valencia’s cross against a post.

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