Slaven Bilic has challenged his players to maintain the level they showed in coming from two goals down to stun Tottenham Hotspur.
West Ham United looked to be heading out of the Carabao Cup at Wembley when they went in two goals down at half-time, but a resurgent second-half performance capped by Andre Ayew’s predatory brace and Angelo Ogbonna’s headed winner saw Bilic’s side through to the fifth round.
The Croatian was rightly proud of his team’s sensational comeback, and challenged them to show the same level of performance when they travel to Crystal Palace for an important Premier League game on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm very, very proud of the whole team,” said Bilic, who guided his team through to the quarter-finals for the second season in succession. “We told the guys at half-time that we had to do some things better when they had the ball and, to be fair, the crucial thing was to be more solid, close them down and not let them play in their little pockets.
"It was all about who scored the first goal after half-time and we scored it and suddenly we had more energy and our crosses were really hard to defend. From three of them, we basically scored three goals.
"We then defended really well, we focused on everything and really showed great quality, great character, great stubbornness and great teamwork and it was really great to win for our Club.
"We have to be proud, but we've done nothing. We've only done a lot if we take this as a standard and if we take forward this defending, this closing people down and all the basic things that mean such a lot in a game, being there for one another.
“If we take this as a standard and continue with it in training and in games, then we have done a lot. We have to take this into training on Thursday, training on Friday and into Saturday's massive, massive game against Crystal Palace."
If we take this as a standard and continue with it in training and in games, then we have done a lot
While Bilic may have looked under pressure as he headed down the Wembley tunnel half-time with his team trailing 2-0, but the Croatian claimed he was ‘calm’ inside.
An hour later, was celebrating another memorable win at Wembley, ten years after guiding Croatia to victory over England in a vital UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier at the same venue.
“I was calm. I was confident because I didn’t think our first half was that bad. It was a bad first goal to concede and it was bad that we conceded a second one because we were all behind the ball but gave them too much time.
“We had to close those pockets of space that Alli and Sissoko were using and Fernandes and Lanzini did that really good in the second half. Then, when we came into those attacking positions, we asked for better balls in and we had that, which gave us the confidence. We were all composed and calm.
“I was very calm. I just wanted us to win the football game and play with pride.”