Hammers secure Europa progress as Anderlecht are beaten

Brian Jeeves
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West Ham United v RSC Anderlecht – UEFA Europa Conference League Group B – London Stadium – Report

West Ham United 2-1 RSC Anderlecht

West Ham United secured their UEFA Europa Conference League Group B qualification with two games to spare after seeing off Belgian outfit, RSC Anderlecht at the London Stadium.

The Hammers went into the game having won five of their last six in all competitions: “Every win you get builds confidence wherever you play, boss, David Moyes explained.

“Whether it comes in the Conference League or the Premier League everything helps, and you’re trying to get a bit of consistency to your play and you results. Thankfully we’ve been getting a few wins recently which has been really good.

“We want real competition here, which I think we have at the moment. We’re beginning to get an even stronger group of players who have been doing well. Last year it worked incredibly well for us in the group stages, where we were able to change half the team or so.

“When it really got tough was when it got to the likes of the quarter-finals and semis, where we were having to play a lot of the players who were also playing on the Sunday as well. That became tough, but at the moment we have got ourselves in a good position in the group, and we want to maintain it.”

Following their Premier League victory over Fulham, Moyes made eight changes his line-up with Jarrod Bowen, Aaron Cresswell and Lucas Paquetá retaining their places.

“I do see us continuing to rotate the squad because I think we’ve got players at different times who can come in,” Moyes added.

“Sometimes injuries change your thinking because if you have an injury or illness it can make you play other players again. 

“Ideally, if we can try to win the group it would be great, but like I said before, if we can qualify for Europe after Christmas, again that would be a decent thing done.”

Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick fizzed over as the home side provided the first notable attempt of the evening – Kristian Arnstad was booked for a crude tackle on Vladimir Coufal. But when the East Londoners were provided with a similar opportunity minutes later, Said Benrahma took responsibility and rifled beyond Anderlecht stopper, Hendrik Van Crombrugge to settle any Hammers nerves.

West Ham were in control and just before the half-hour mark, it was two. Jarrod Bowen thumped high into the net after Emerson had dashed down the left and fashioned an opening. The home side was on easy street.

After the restart, the hosts picked up where they left off. Emerson’s deflected strike bounced the wrong side of an upright with Van Crombrugge stranded, while Pablo Fornals saw his shot blocked following a crisp move involving the busy Benrahma.

The arrival of Declan Rice and Gianluca Scamacca, in place of Cresswell and Bowen, lifted the audience as the game began to go through the motions. Tomas Souček hit the side netting as the home side looked to finish the tie in style. 

Unsavoury scenes marred the latter stages as fans clashed inside the stadium. Seats were thrown by the Anderlecht contingent, while riot police moved in to defuse the situation.

Anderlecht were provided with a late lifeline when Ben Johnson was adjudged to have fouled Esposito. The same man dusted himself off before rolling home the resulting spot-kick.

West Ham requires a single point from their last two group matches to ensure the top spot and avoid a play-off match ahead of the knockout stages early next year.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, October 16 when they face Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium (2pm).

West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Johnson, Ogbonna (Dawson 22′) (Souček 75′), Cresswell (Capt) (Rice 63′), Emerson, Lanzini, Downes, Lucas Paquetá (Fornals 46′), Benrahma, Bowen (Scamacca 63′) Subs not used: Randolph (GK), Hegyi (GK), Potts, Scarles, Forson, Coventry

Booked: Lucas Paquetá (foul), Downes (foul), Johnson (foul)

Goals: Said Benrahma 14′, Jarrod Bowen 30′

Anderlecht: Van Crombrugge (Capt), Debast (Hoedt 79′), Delcroix, N’Diaye, Murillo, Arnstad, Diawara (Sadiki 59′), Verschaeren (Vertonghen 66′), Amuzu (Stroeykens 66′), Esposito, Silva (Stassin 79′) Subs not used: Verbruggen (GK), Coosemans (GK), Raman, Ishaq, Ait El Hadj, Sardella, Leoni

Booked: Arnstad (foul)

Goals: Esposito (penalty) 88′

Referee: Willy Delajod (Fra)

Assistants: Erwan Finjean and Philippe Jeanne (both Fra)

Fourth Official: Thomas Leonard (Fra)


Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk