West Ham 2-1 Anderlecht: The Hammers advance to the Europa Conference League Round of 16 after first-half goals from Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma… before holding a late charge after Sebastiano Esposito’s penalty
- West Ham beat Anderlecht 2-1 in the Europa Conference League on Thursday
- Said Benrahma gave the Hammers a perfect start in just the 14th minute
- The Algerian striker’s free kick flew into the top left corner to make it 1-0
- Jarrod Bowen then doubled the ascendancy with a fine finish on 30 minutes
- The home side held up a late charge after Sebastiano Esposito’s late penalty
- However, the injuries to Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson will worry David Moyes
With a strike that is bound to attract the attention of a certain national team manager, Jarrod Bowen has almost ensured West Ham will reach the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League.
They are not confirmed as top of their group, but with West Ham needing just one point in their last two games – against Danish club Silkeborg and Romania’s FCSB – manager David Moyes knows that ‘it would take a Devon Loch-esque collapse from here.
Bowen scored his third goal in four games since the international break when he was an unused England substitute, a searing strike to follow up Said Benrahma’s free-kick.
Saïd Benrahma opened the scoring in the 14th minute from distance with a precise free kick
The Algerian striker’s free-kick goal was struck with deadly precision into the top left corner
Jarrod Bowen doubled the lead for David Moyes’ side with a strike from the edge of the box
His well-scored goal came from the edge of the box with the England striker losing his balance
West Ham (3-4-3): Areola 6.5; Johnson 7, Ogbonna 6 (Dawson 22.6) (Soucek 75.6), Cresswell 7 (Rice 64.6); Coufal 7, Lanzini 7, Downes 7.5, Emerson 7; Bowen 8 (Scamacca 64, 6), Paqueta 7 (Fornals 45, 6), Benrahma 7
Subtitles (not used): Randolph, Hegyi, Coventry, Forson, Potts, Scarles
Scorers: Benrahma (14), Bowen (30)
Reserve: Paqueta, Downes
Administrator: David Moyes 7
Anderlecht (3-5-2): Van Crombrugge 5.5; Debast 5.5, Delcroix 5.5 (Hoedt 79), N’Diaye 5; Murillo 5, Arnstad 5, Diawara 5 (Sadiki 45, 6), Verschaeren 5 (Vertonghen 66, 6), Amuzu 5 (Stroeykens 66, 6); Silva 5 (Stassin 79), Esposito 5
Subtitles (not used): Verbruggen, Coosemans, Raman, Ishaq, Ait El Hadj, Sardella, Leoni
Administrator: Felice Mazzu 5
Arbitrator: Willy Delajod 6
They were two moments of beauty in a match that risked being overshadowed by ugliness with Anderlecht fans tearing up plastic seats to use as missiles and launching flares at the home stand.
In better news, Bowen can now say he is West Ham’s all-time leading European goalscorer with six goals, tied with Johnny Byrne and David Cross, and Moyes said afterwards: “Hopefully ‘he can score a few more.” He looks menacing every time we play him.
Thursday night’s victory means West Ham are guaranteed to finish at least second in their group, which would send them into a two-legged play-off for the knockout stages.
Moyes doesn’t want that, having previously complained about his club’s stupid schedule.
Although keen to win, he made eight changes last night. This included the arrival of Flynn Downes, the 23-year-old midfielder who is improving with every game and threatening Tomas Soucek’s starting spot in the Premier League.
A battle to watch last night was that of Lucas Paqueta against Amadou Diawara. The Anderlecht midfield enforcer wasn’t happy last week when Paqueta showed silky skill after coming on as a substitute, believing it was an arrogant attempt to liquidate them.
Diawara warned he “would not tolerate” such showboating and within 30 seconds Paqueta was on the ground after being tripped. The Brazilian was a living part of a fluid front three and it was his pass to Benrahma that led to a timely free-kick 25 yards from goal.
Sebastiano Esposito’s 87th-minute penalty created a nervy end to the game for the hosts
Aaron Cresswell was over but he had already fired a free kick over the crossbar. It was Benrahma’s turn this time and he curled the ball beautifully into the corner for 1-0 after 14 minutes.
In the 30th minute it was 2-0 thanks to Bowen’s belt. Knowing England boss Gareth Southgate will be watching, he controlled the ball with his first touch, set himself up with his second and then slammed it home with his third.
A dodgy 87th-minute penalty for the visitors, awarded by Ben Johnson for an apparent foul on Sebastiano Esposito, who then netted himself, created a nervy ending.
This only momentarily distracted Anderlecht supporters who, for the final 10 minutes of that game, seemed determined to take their frustrations out on nearby home fans. A spokesperson for the Belgian club went on to condemn all offenders who played a part in the ugliness.
West Ham took the win despite those distractions, with Bowen reminding Southgate of his genius.
The Italian striker won the penalty after a dubious challenge from defender Ben Johnson
Anderlecht supporters used plastic seats as missiles to launch at West Ham supporters