Dimitri Payet underlined why West Ham splashed out on a new contract for the France midfielder this week as his influential display helped rescue a 2-2 draw against Norwich on Saturday.
Slaven Bilic’s side were heading for defeat at Carrow Road after goals from Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan appeared to have put lowly Norwich in complete control.
But Payet, who signed a bumper deal as West Ham moved to keep him following a reported offer from the wealthy Chinese league, maintained the superb form that has made him such a hit since his pre-season move from Marseille.
He sparked West Ham’s revival with a 74th-minute goal and then set up Mark Noble’s blistering equaliser two minutes later to ensure his club remain firmly in the hunt for a Europa League place.
Norwich’s late meltdown was a significant blow to their hopes of avoiding relegation and they remain in the drop zone.
After five successive league defeats, Norwich’s predicament had taken another turn for the worse before kick-off as relegation rivals Sunderland defeated Manchester United to climb above the Canaries.
Alex Neil’s team had conceded 19 goals in their last six matches in all competitions, with last weekend’s woeful 2-0 loss at bottom club Aston Villa an especially alarming setback.
Norwich defender Russell Martin tried to set the tempo with a first minute burst forward that ended with a powerful shot over the crossbar.
West Ham arrived in Norfolk in buoyant mood after their midweek FA Cup fourth round replay win over Liverpool.
And the visitors threatened when Enner Valencia cleverly worked space for a shot from a tight angle that Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy did well to tip over.
Norwich broke the deadlock in the 54th minute when Brady stole possession from Michail Antonio and curled a fine shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line.
It was just Brady’s second goal of the season, with his other one also coming against West Ham.
Bilic responded by sending on forwards Andy Carroll and Victor Moses, but Norwich doubled their lead in the 65th minute.
Steven Naismith’s shot from the edge of the area deflected off James Collins into the path of Hoolahan, who side-footed home from close range despite West Ham’s appeals for offside.
Bilic’s team needed to hit back quickly and they struck in the 74th minute when Moses’s shot was pushed out by Ruddy into the path of Payet, who slotted into the empty net.
West Ham were suddenly inspired and two minutes later Noble equalised with a superb strike from Payet’s pass.
Emmanuel Emenike had a chance to cap the fightback in stoppage-time, but the West Ham substitute missed his kick from close-range.