West Ham book Conference League knockout ticket

West Ham book Conference League knockout ticket


West Ham maintained their 100% Europa Conference League record and secured a place in the knockout stage with victory over Anderlecht at London Stadium.

First-half goals from Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen were enough to make it four wins from four in Group B despite Sebastiano Esposito’s late penalty.

David Moyes’ side still need a point from their final two games to confirm their direct passage to the last 16.

West Ham were too good for their visitors throughout, with Wolves loanee Fabio Silva barely making an impact for Anderlecht up front.

Benrahma’s well-taken free-kick gave the hosts the lead before England World Cup hopeful Bowen drove home his third European goal of the campaign and his sixth in the last two seasons, joining Johnny Byrne and David Cross as the club’s joint highest scorer in European competitions.

The final 15 minutes witnessed unpleasant scenes as rival supporters threw seats at each other, prompting the police to intervene to keep them apart.

Benrahma has been a frustrating performer for West Ham since his arrival from Brentford two years ago.

The Algerian is capable of moments of brilliance but, as Moyes has noted, too often his end product fails to match the approach work.

His 14th-minute opener was superb. Sizing up his free-kick from a central position 20 yards out, he caught it just right. And while he was aided by the Anderlecht wall breaking too early, it had the pace and precision to beat Hendrik van Crombrugge.

Yet in the second half came one of those moments Moyes finds so irritating. Scampering down the left, in loads of space, Benrahma tried to find a team-mate but overhit his cross, forcing central defender Ben Johnson to run back and retrieve.

Until Benrahma loses that inconsistency from his game, it is hard to see how he gets a place in Moyes’ first-choice line-up on a regular basis.

Hammers’ injury concerns
Aside from the simmering tension in the stands, the negatives for West Ham came on the injury front.

Angelo Ogbonna missed the final six months of last season after suffering a cruciate injury and worked hard all summer on his rehabilitation.

But the 34-year-old lasted only 22 minutes before signalling he could not continue and was replaced by Craig Dawson.

The substitute then had to be replaced himself 15 minutes before the end, not long after a clash of heads with team-mate Flynn Downes.

It was not immediately clear why Dawson had gone off but he made his way straight to the dressing rooms.

With new signing Nayef Aguerd still a little way off a first-team return despite being in training after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in pre-season, it could mean the Hammers are short in defence as they face three Premier League games in a week, which includes a trip to Liverpool.