Valencia returns in friendly thriller

Enner Valencia returned to action and both Andy Carroll and Mauro Zarate scored in a 4-3 friendly defeat by Reading at the Boleyn Ground
Enner Valencia made a successful return to action, while Andy Carroll got on the scoresheet as a West Ham United XI were edged out by Reading in seven-goal friendly thriller at the Boleyn Ground on Friday.

Slaven Bilic will be thrilled to see Valencia back on the pitch after he picked up a serious knee and ankle injury in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg against Astra Giurgiu at the start of August.

The Ecuador international has made a speedy recovery and managed to play the final 20 minutes of a seven goal thriller at the Boleyn Ground, making an immediate impact when he set up Carroll for a clinical finish late in the game.

Bilic will also be pleased to see Carroll back on the scoresheet as he got a full 90 minutes under his belt and will be pushing hard for a first-team place ahead of the London derby against Crystal Palace on 17 October.

With the international break taking place, the Hammers manager used the opportunity to name a strong line-up which included summer signings Nikica Jelavic and Michail Antonio, while Manuel Lanzini, James Tomkins, Pedro Obiang and Mauro Zarate were also included.

Club skipper Mark Noble, Dimitri Payet and Victor Moses were also introduced as substitutes in the second half of an open, thrilling game marked by two outstanding goals from Zarate.

Reading opened the scoring on 22 minutes and doubled the lead from the penalty spot just two minutes later after Tomkins was adjudged to have given away a foul inside the penalty box.

But the Hammers bit back on 35 minutes when Carroll's low shot came back off the post. The rebound fell to Zarate and he made no mistake, striking the ball into the roof of the net via the inside of the post.

The Argentina striker then brought the home side level in spectacular fashion on 39 minutes when he raced towards the Reading box and fired an unstoppable shot which sailed into the roof of the net from 30 yards.
The Hammers could have taken the lead on 50 minutes when Zarate's corner picked out Carroll who saw his powerful close-range header kept out by the Reading goalkeeper. The rebound fell nicely to Oxford but he was caught off-balance and could only launch his shot over the bar.

Instead, it was Reading who added a third on 59 minutes and they took control of the game on 72 minutes to make it 4-2.

The game finished on a high note as Valencia made an impact as a substitute as he raced clear into the penalty box and cut the ball back for Carroll who made no mistake striking his shot into the back of the net.

Reading held on for the victory, but Bilic will be able to take a number of positives from the performance as the team prepare for the big London derby at Selhurst Park next weekend.

West Ham United XI: Spiegel, Knoyle (Browne 71), Tomkins (Onariase 60), Oxford (Chambers 71), Hendrie (Page 46); Zarate (Payet 60mins), Obiang (Moses 60), Lanzini (Noble 46), Antonio (Valencia 71), Carroll, Jelavic