Carroll raises festive cheer
Two-goal Andy Carroll helped West Ham climb to third in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-1 victory over 10-man Swansea at Upton Park.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce put his neck on the line leading into the game after revealing he opted to sign Carroll rather than Wilfried Bony in the summer of 2013, insisting his decision would be vindicated in time.
Bony has since lit up the league and is in a rich vein of form, while Carroll has struggled for both fitness and form since his club-record move to east London.
It looked as though Allardyce's comments would backfire on him and his player when Bony put the Swans in front, but Carroll's brace - plus a third from returning substitute Diafra Sakho - sealed a come-from-behind victory to leave just Chelsea and Manchester City above the Hammers.
Swansea ended the match a man down, with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski dismissed for attempting to impede Sakho as he bore down on goal.
West Ham were quick out of the blocks and skipper Kevin Nolan had two good chances to open the scoring for the Hammers but he could not connect fully with Carl Jenkinson's cross down the right as his volley squirmed wide.
His second chance came moments later after a disguised Stewart Downing free-kick allowed him to get a shot away, with Fabianski making a smart stop and James Tomkins' follow-up effort blocked.
The visitors had been second-best up until that point but were ahead from their first chance as Jefferson Montero and Gylfi Sigurdsson exchanged passes before the former fed Bony, who coolly slotted home past Adrian for his 19th league goal of 2014 and his seventh in nine games.
Swansea were having less of the ball but looked more incisive and could have doubled their lead on 26 minutes as Sigurdsson's driven effort was pushed away by the West Ham stopper.
Bony then came close to a second after Cheikhou Kouyate was robbed of possession on the edge of his own area and the Ivory Coast international arrowed a shot inches wide.
Both sides were looking dangerous in possession and Aaron Cresswell came close to his second goal in a week but he could only head Downing's pinpoint ball straight at Fabianski.
Carroll may not be enjoying a similar goalscoring record as counterpart Bony, but the England international showed just what he is capable of as he rose to head home a Jenkinson cross five minutes before the break.
It was Bony who once again came close on the hour-mark as he collected Montero's pass and flashed an effort past Adrian, only to see it clip the crossbar and go behind for a goal-kick.
West Ham were presented with a good opportunity to take the lead as Leon Britton was caught dawdling by Nolan, who fed substitute Sakho - with the Senegal international's cross poked behind for a corner.
And Carroll was on hand to leap highest and head home Downing's corner - with the former Newcastle man running over to embrace Allardyce and the rest of West Ham's bench.
Things went from bad to worse for the Swans as Fabianski was shown a straight red card seconds later as he was adjudged to have fouled Sakho as he raced through on goal.
Sakho came close to wrapping up the points but could only hit the post when one on one with substitute goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel before Swansea looked to hit back despite their numerical disadvantage.
But West Ham added a third courtesy of a thunderous finish from Sakho, his seventh league goal, to wrap up an eighth win of the season.