Bilic content with Carrow Road comeback

Slaven Bilic hailed the impact made by his substitutes as West Ham United came from behind to draw 2-2 at Norwich City
Slaven Bilic hailed the impact made by his substitutes as West Ham United came from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Norwich City.

The Hammers trailed by two goals going into the final 20 minutes, but the introduction of Andy Carroll, Victor Moses and later Emmanuel Emenike almost saw the visitors snatch an unlikely victory at Carrow Road.

Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan had put Norwich into a seemingly unassailable position midway through the second half, but Moses’ run set up Dimitri Payet to make it 2-1 with 16 minutes to go. Then both Moses and Carroll were involved in the move which ended with Mark Noble slamming Payet’s expert cut-back into the top corner.

Emenike and Moses both went close to nicking it late on, and Bilic was fulsome in his praise for his replacements.

“They made the difference,” he enthused. “They made a huge impact and I expected that from them, but the way they made that impact was great and they deserve all the praise.”

Speaking in more general terms about a breathless second half in Norfolk, Bilic said he was content with a point following a physically and emotionally draining week.

“It was a game of emotions,” said the manager. “You can talk about positives and negatives but when you consider we played for 120 minutes on Tuesday night [to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup] and the fact we were two goals down here in a very short period of time, it was a good draw.

“Their first goal was absolutely our gift to them and their second you could call a bit unlucky because there was a deflection and all that, so then you need team spirit and resilience, but you also need quality to come back.

“The way we played in the last half an hour was brilliant and I want to praise the team. The guys did really well to get a point for us.”

Both goals showcased West Ham’s spirit, desire and quality in the attacking third, with the players showing determination to get into position before showing the ability to finish those chances off.

The first came following an individual run and shot from Moses, which was finished by Payet following up after John Ruddy had parried the Nigerian’s shot. The second came at the end of a decisive passing move that cut Norwich’s defence to shreds.

West Ham continued to create chances in the final moments, with Emenike and Moses coming within inches of finding a winner.

“I am expecting them to do it because they have that quality and they showed it,” the manager explained. “The first goal was a brilliant move, but that’s why he’s Victor Moses and that’s why he is a West Ham player. I was then expecting a player to be there to finish the loose ball, whether that be Dimi or someone else.

“After that we continued to press them and continued to play and scored the second one and could have won the game.

“It summed it up that the home crowd, the home players and the home bench were unhappy with the five minutes of added time. After we got it back to 2-1, there was only one side on the pitch.

“OK, they had a last-second corner but it was us who were on top and wanted to win the game and didn’t want the game to stop.”

Bilic and his players will recover and regroup before starting preparations for next Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth-round trip to Blackburn Rovers.

In the meantime, the Claret and Blue Army can celebrate reaching 40 points, a place in the top six and the new long-term contract signed last week by talisman Payet.

“With our key players, we have to keep them and give them what they deserve and to be fair I have to praise the Chairmen and the Board for the way they reacted quite quickly,” said Bilic.

“It’s great because, although he already had a long contract, we wanted to show him we appreciate the way he is playing and want to tie his future to West Ham.

“Basically, we are not only showing by moving stadiums that we are moving forward, but also with the team selection and the squad that we have, so big congratulations to the Chairmen and the Board.”