Yarmolenko and Noble clean up as West Ham secures Europa League top spot


Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble scored for West Ham as David Moyes’ side secured first place in their Europa League group with a victory over Rapid Vienna.

The Hammers have taken four wins in five matches in the competition, beating the Austrian side 2-0 away. Moyes had made eight changes to the squad which lost 1-0 to Wolves in the Premier League last time around. Only Craig Dawson, Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen retained their places as the Scotsman rested most of his key stars for the weekend.

West Ham started off brilliantly and could have moved forward in under six minutes. Arthur Masuaku placed a cross from the left, which Bowen slid to reach. He could only put a toe on it as the ball narrowly passed.

Summer signature Nikola Vlasic had his own chance five minutes later. A good building game saw the Croatia international receive the ball into the box, and he turned towards goal. But it was too high and didn’t bother Viennese goalkeeper Paul Gartler.

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The home team had their first chance soon after. A withdrawal from the left found Greek striker Taxiarchis Fountas, who failed to limit his first effort.

West Ham started to be sloppy in possession but managed to break the deadlock with 39 minutes. Vlasic crossed over on his left foot and found Yarmolenko’s head. The Ukrainian captain headed to the far corner, leaving Gartler no chance.

The opener was Yarmolenko’s first of the campaign, as well as Vlasic’s first goal since his £ 25million transfer from CSKA Moscow.

Moyes’ men had a two-goal lead in added time in the first half. Yarmolenko was stuck in the box, forcing the referee to point the finger at the spot. Veteran midfielder Mark Noble stepped up and sent the shot on goal confidently putting it in the top corner.

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West Ham should have scored three points after the break. Fluid movement saw Manuel Lanzini play Bowen, who should have smashed the ball into the net but instead tried to be smart and set up a teammate, allowing the ball to be cleared.

Soucek and Bowen both had good chances soon after, but were blocked by a strong goalkeeper and excellent defensive block.

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Moyes decided to let Bowen rest, with the former Hull City man being replaced alongside Lanzini and Soucek. Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals and Alex Kral took their places.

Fountas had another chance for Vienna in the 73rd minute, but he shot out from a good position.

Moyes made further changes moments later when speedster Ryan Fredericks came in to replace Masuaku. The manager also gave teenager Sonny Perkins his senior debut, as England U18 international replaced Vlasic. He almost scored with his first touch as a point blank header was pushed over the bar.

West Ham continued to dominate possession in the playoffs and completed the victory to reach 13 points in Group H.

Their next game is a league clash against Man City on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.



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