England forward Andy Carroll returned to goalscoring form with two thumping headers in West Ham United’s 3-1 victory over Swansea City that lifted the London club to third in the Premier League on Sunday.
Carroll, without a goal since March, headed his side level just before halftime after Wilfried Bony had put Swansea ahead against the run of play.
He struck again early in the second half before top scorer Diafra Sakho lashed home a third as West Ham, one of this season’s surprise packages, registered their third successive league victory.
Swansea had goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski sent off shortly after they fell behind for impeding Sakho.
West Ham have 27 points, one ahead of fourth-placed Southampton and two clear of fifth-placed Manchester United who face each other on Monday.
Aston Villa face bottom of the table Leicester City in Sunday’s late kick off.
Carroll, who has endured serious foot and ankle injuries since joining West Ham in 2012, was too powerful for Swansea’s defence, especially in the air.
“It was a great feeling, it is fantastic to be back on the pitch and play as many games as I have in the last few weeks,” Carroll, who returned from his latest long-term injury last month, told the BBC.
“There is nothing better than scoring goals as a striker, so I was desperate to get a goal and it is great feeling.
“It is never a good sign going behind but we have fought back twice in a week to get the points, which is fantastic.”
West Ham dominated the opening exchanges with their newly-adopted fluent, passing football but only managed to draw one sharp stop from Fabinaski.
They were left to rue their failure to create the chances their possession warranted when Jefferson Montero’s smart cut back was steered in by Bony for his seventh goal of the season.
Both sides created chances with the lively Gylfi Sigurdsson drawing a save from Adrian while Cheikhou Kouyate and Alex Song were wasteful in promising positions for the hosts.
With halftime looming Carroll restored parity when he met Carl Jenkinson’s deep cross with a thunderous far post header.
Sakho was introduced from the bench at the break and was lively following his return from injury.
Bony clipped the top of the crossbar with a fierce drive but West Ham responded with Carroll leaping highest to cannon Stuart Downing’s corner past Leon Britton’s attempted clearance.
Within minutes Fabianski was shown a straight red card after dashing out of his area and barging Sakho.
Sakho twice hit the post before finally adding a deserved goal with an emphatic finish.