West Ham book much-needed morale boost with adventure to come


t will not produce the kind of glamour ties that were being churned out by the Champions League draw as West Ham were kicking off in Viborg this evening, but David Moyes’s side can at least look forward to tomorrow’s Europa Conference League equivalent knowing they have a firm and vested interest.

Leading 3-1 from last week’s first leg of this qualifying tie in London, the Irons made light work of the return as goals from Gianluca Scamacca, Said Benrahma and Tomas Soucek earned a 3-0 victory in Denmark and secured a second successive season in European competition proper with a 6-1 aggregate success.

Last season’s Europa League semi-finalists have made a turgid start to their Premier League campaign, rock bottom of the table after an abject return of no points and no goals from their opening three matches.

Progress in Europe then, felt like a necessity, not only to tee up another continental adventure after the appetite was whet last term, but also to avoid a full-blown crisis before the end of August. That it was earned with a performance that, in the second half in particular, offered encouraging clues as to how Moyes’ summer signings might fix a misfiring attack was something of a bonus.

Moyes named a strong side, albeit one showing six changes from the side that started the defeat against Brighton on Sunday. The Scot’s latest arrival, Emerson Palmeiri – the seventh of the summer – was not eligible, but Maxwel Cornet and Scamacca were among those in action from the outset and both impressed on their second starts for the club, as they had at the London Stadium a week earlier.

Italian international Scamacca opened the scoring with a smart near-post finish from Soucek’s cross midway through the first half which effectively ended the tie as a contest, though it was not a vintage first-half display from the visitors, with Alphonse Areola making a magnificent double save to prevent the Danes reducing the deficit just before the break.

After the restart, however, West Ham improved markedly and Cornet had twice gone close to teeing up Scamacca with low crosses before his flick put Benrahma through to double the lead on the night with an assured finish.

Soucek bundled home from close range after Thilo Kehrer’s header had been well saved, while Cornet somehow missed the chance to open his Hammers account when lifting over an open goal from Benrahma’s unselfish pass.

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