Controversy over Anelka celebration played down by West Brom boss

Anelka scored two goals but his celebration has come into question Photo: PA

West Brom head coach Keith Downing has said forward Nicolas Anelka is surprised by claims his goal celebration during the Baggies' 3-3 draw at West Ham was an anti-Semitic gesture.

The 34-year-old returned to the West Brom side for the first time in over two months and scored a brace in an entertaining Barclays Premier League game in which both sides came from behind.

Anelka seemingly performed the 'quenelle' salute, made famous by French comedian Dieudonne and linked to anti-Semitism in his homeland, but Downing said the striker was merely paying homage to his friend.

Anelka scored twice in five minutes at the end of the first half after Joe Cole had put West Ham ahead but it was his opening strike, which was his maiden West Brom goal, which led to the celebration.

Downing said the 'quenelle' gesture was in no way linked to anything other than a dedication to Dieudonne, a personal friend, and said anything else being read in to the display was "absolute rubbish".

"I'm aware of it but it has got nothing to do what is being said," Downing replied when asked about the gesture.

"It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.

"He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it."