Dimitri Payet stole all the headlines again as West Ham drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace five years ago today.
The Frenchman scored one of the best goals of the Premier League era as the Hammers pushed on in their chase for European football. Manuel Lanzini had levelled the game to 1-1, after Damien Delaney gave the visitors an early advantage.
Payet put Slaven Bilic’s side into a 2-1 lead after 41 minutes. His 20-yard freekick had Wayne Hennessey rooted to the spot. Dwight Gale equalised late on for the Eagles after a Cheikhou Kouyate saw red in an action-packed game.
In all seriousness, in that 2015/16 campaign, winning a close rang freekick felt as good as winning a penalty. Honestly, Payet was that special.
We were eight months into the Premier League season. At this point, everyone knew what Payet was about. He was clinical from set-plays and Palace showed him the ultimate sign of respect.
Hennessey set up a seven-man wall between him and Payet. Delaney, Wilfried Zaha, Mile Jedinak, Scott Dann, Yannick Bolasie, Joel Ward and Joe Ledley all stood in his way. Probably the biggest wall in Premier League history, in terms of personnel and height.
Instead of going over the wall, Payet went for the far post. From 20 yards out, he struck the ball with so much dip and curve that everyone around him stopped.
The ball must have reached 10 or 12 feet in the air before arrowing into the top corner of Hennessey’s net, clipping the underside of the crossbar as it went in.
By this stage of the campaign, we were used to seeing excellence from Payet. But even by his standards this was just ridiculous. He set off to the corner of the Sir Trevor Brooking stand, arms open as if to say what do you make of that?
Everything Payet touched in the last season at Upton Park turned to gold, and this was no different. We’ll do well to have a player as technically gifted at him ever again.
Sadly, his goal wasn’t the winner on the day. It was a goal deserving of so much more than a sloppy 2-2 home draw to Palace.