Hammers hit back to get their Europa campaign off to a flyer

West Ham United v FC TSC Backta Topola – UEFA Europa League Group A – London Stadium – Report

West Ham United 3-1 FC TSC Backta Topola

West Ham United recovered from a second-half scare to see off Serbian outfit FC TSC Backta Topola in their opening UEFA Europa League Group ‘A’ match at the London Stadium

The beginning of the Hammers’ third-successive season in competitive European football was always going to draw comparisons the previous two, even at this early stage: “European glory was a fantastic feeling,” boss, David Moyes enthused.

“I’ve got to say there’s an inner glow about me because getting that victory meant so much. I’m pleased to carry that with me now.

“I hope I can do it again, because that magic feeling when it happened, the aftermath, what it meant to so many people in the East End of London – it was a great moment.

“To be fortunate enough to win a European trophy is not something that happens every day.”

A viciously deflected James Ward-Prowse free-kick had TSC goalkeeper Nikola Simic scrambling awkwardly across the goal as the home side set the tone.

Already in the thick of the action, Simic fisted away a stinging attempt from Lucas Paqueta, then superbly denied Thilo Keher with his feet. Meanwhile, Mohammed Kudus saw his attempt clipped behind, while Konstantinos Mavropanos nodded just wide from the resulting corner.

It was largely one-way traffic. Simic shovelled away another attempt from Paqueta as the home side became scrappy and frustrated. Incredibly, TSC almost took advantage when, on the stroke of half-time, Peter Stanic’s flag-kick was headed fractionally too high by Nemanja Stojic.

West Ham clearly hadn’t heeded the warning and a little over a minute after the restart, West Ham fell behind. Stanic seized on a horrendous error from Angelo Ogbonna before racing clear and beating Lukasz Fabianski with a cool finish. 

The home crowd were left stunned. The home side had lost their way. TSC defended in numbers. Moyes called for Michail Antonio, replacing the ineffective Pablo Fornals, in a desperate bid to retrieve the situation. 

The East Londoners were throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their Serbian visitors and midway through the half, they restored parity. Said Benrahma looked to pick out Kudus at the far post. However, Nemanja Petrovic bundled into his own gaol, much to the relief of the agitated home crowd.

And within five minutes, West Ham had turned the tie on its head. This time there was no mistaking that it was Kudus’s goal after he arrived unmarked to powerfully head home a pin-point flag-kick from Ward-Prowse.

Tomas Soucek had only been on the field a matter of minutes before he also profited from a Ward-Prowse flag kick. The Czech firmly headed a third to seal the contest.

Souceck and Antonio went close as West Ham closed the game out with relative comfort. Their early scare was now all but forgotten. 

West Ham United now turn their attention back to the Premier League where they face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, September 24 (2pm).

West Ham United: Fabiański, Kehrer, Mavropanos, Ogbonna (Capt), Cresswell (Emerson 46′), Paquetá (Cornet 86′), Ward-Prowse, Fornals (Antonio 61′), Benrahma, Kudus, Ings (Souček 76′) Subs not used: Areola (GK), Anang (GK), Coufal, Johnson, Zouma, Aguerd, Coventry, Mubama

Booked: Kehrer (foul)

Goals: Petrovic (own goal) 66′, Kudus 70′, Soucek 82′

FC TSC Backta Topola: imić, Cvetković, Antonić (Capt), Đorđević (Krstić 70′), Petrović (Rakonjac 81′), Radin, Đakovac (Ćirković 81′), Stojić, Kuveljić (Vulić 81′), Stanić, Jovanović (Mirchevski 90+2′) Subs not used: Ilić (GK), Jorgić (GK), Milovanović, Pantović, Vlalukin, Sós

Booked: Kuveljic (foul)

Goals: Stanic 47′

Referee: Filip Glova (Slovakia)

Assistant Referees: Daniel Polacek and Peter Bednar (Slovakia)

Fourth Official: Michal Ocenáš (Slovakia)

VAR: Alejandro Hernández (Spain)

Assistant VAR: Dennis Higler (Netherlands)

Attendance: 41,374


Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk