LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Dimitri Payet orchestrated West Ham United’s 5-1 FA Cup fifth round rout of second-tier Blackburn Rovers on Sunday but Emmanuel Emenike stole the limelight with two goals on his first full start.
Nigerian international Emenike, signed on loan from Turkish club Fenerbahce last month, struck twice in the second half and was only denied a hat-trick when he rattled the post after some slick footwork late on.
With West Ham chasing a Europa League place and now in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup which they last won in 1980, the powerful presence of Emenike as support for the likes of Payet add to the optimism sweeping the east London club who are moving to the Olympic Stadium next season.
With striker Andy Carroll injured again, West Ham captain Mark Noble believes 28-year-old Emenike can prove a key man in the closing months of the season.
“He is a top player and a top pro. To be fair, Dimitri has been there and scored goals but Emenike has come in for his first start and to get a couple of goals in the FA Cup is fantastic for him,” Noble told the West Ham website.
“He has waited a long time to get this move into the Premier League and I am over the moon for him.”
”You can see the options we had from the bench today with (Alex) Song and Manuel (Lanzini) coming on, which is great.
“We are looking strong.”
Frenchman Payet again looked a class act and scored two fine goals himself, one a curling free kick to put his side ahead and then a late solo effort to round off a good day for coach Slaven Bilic.
“Dimitri is one of the very best, in terms of the players that I’ve played with and coached. He is up there with Luka Modric,” Bilic told reporters afterwards. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ian Chadband)