Hammers home and hosed

West Ham United v SC Freiburg – UEFA Europa League Group A – London Stadium – Report

West Ham United 2-0 SC Freiburg

West Ham United eased to victory over SC Freiburg at the London Stadium to top UEFA Europa League Group A and avoid a potentially tricky play-off tie in February.

Last season Europa Conference winners needed a single point to remain at the summit and despite slipping to a heavy Premier League defeat at Fulham last time out, Hammers boss, David Moyes expected another notable evening in E20.

“The last few years, we’ve had some really good nights at London Stadium,” the Scotsman enthused.

“I think back to the wins against Sevilla and AZ Alkmaar, and those were some really special nights for us. We’re not at that stage yet this season though. We’re still in the group.

“We’ve won the group in the last two years and doing so for a third straight year is going to be really tough. SC Freiburg are a very good team and we’re going to need to play well to get a result.”

Indeed, the home side were almost on the way within the opening five minutes. Lucas Paqueta’s thumping strike cannoned back off the face of the crossbar after Mohammed Kudus picked him out from the right.

Kudus is a live wire. Edson Álvarez picked out the Ghanaian international, who in turn beat Noah Atubolu in the Freiburg goal with a neat, left-footed finish.

West Ham United’s Edson Alvarez celebrates scoring his side’s second goal (Rob Newell CameraSport)

The home side were knocking the ball around with confidence. Jarrod Bowen’s speculative attempt was too high, while a late flag cut short celebrations after the former Hull City man had raced clear and beaten Atubolu. 

Freiburg had offered very little. Ritsu Doan fired into Lukasz Fabianski’s midriff. Within seconds, the play had switched to the other end. Álvarez beat Atubolu with aplomb after Bowen had played him in. West Ham, two goals to the good.

Atubolu thwarted Emerson. Meanwhile, substitute Merlin Rohl tested Fabianski immediately after the restart. Bowen was unable to profit from close range after Vladimir Coufal’s low centre had found its way across the six-yard box. Then Kudus was a whisker away as the hosts continued to dominate.

Backed by a tremendously vocal support, Freiburg looked for a way back. Fabianski saved superbly from Doan, while Noah Weißhaupt was wayward when following up. 

But this had otherwise proved to be a routine victory for Moyes’s men, who finished with five victories from their six group matches.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, December 17 when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit the London Stadium (2pm).

West Ham United: Fabiański (Capt), Coufal (Kehrer 88′), Mavropanos, Aguerd, Emerson, Álvarez (Fornals 55′), Ward-Prowse, Souček, Kudus (Cornet 88′), Paquetá (Mubama 72′), Bowen (Ings 72′) Subs not used: Areola (GK), Johnson, Cresswell, Zouma, Ogbonna, Coventry, Benrahma

Booked: None

Goals: Kudus 14′, Álvarez 42′

SC Freiburg: Atubolu, Sidillia, Ginter, Gulde, Makengo (Kübler 74′), Eggestein (Höler 56′), Höfler, Grifo (Capt)(Weißhaupt 69′), Gregoritsch (Adamu 56′), Sallai (Röhl 46′) Subs not used: Müller (GK), Jantunen (GK), Rüdlin, Baur

Booked: None

Goals: None

Referee: João Pinheiro (Por)

Assistants: Bruno Jesus and Luciano Maia (both Por)

Fourth Official: João António Ferreira Gonçalves (Por)

Video Assistant Referee: Tiago Martins (Por)

Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Nejc Kajtazovic (Svn)

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk