The Frenchman beat three players in a mesmerising run before scoring his first league goal of the season in the 57th minute.
It ended West Ham’s miserable run of four successive defeats – but they are still five games without a league win, they still remain in the bottom three – and their new stadium hoodoo continues.
Hammers gave the attendance as 56,945 but there were lots of empty seats.
Payet’s goal cancelled out Boro’s goal six minutes earlier, given when TV’s goal-line technology proved totally correct.
But until his strike, already a contender for Goal of the Season, the Frenchman, like West Ham, had looked forlorn.
Bilic is definitely under pressure to correct the tilt.
West Ham simply can’t afford second tier football.