RSC Anderlecht 0-1 West Ham United
UEFA Europa Conference League Group B, Lotto Park, Thursday 6 October 2022
West Ham United recorded a third straight win in UEFA Europa Conference League Group B, with Gianluca Scamacca the match-winner at Belgium's RSC Anderlecht.
The only goal of the night came when the Hammers No7 converted his fourth European goal of the season from inside the area with eleven minutes to play – the first goal Anderlecht had conceded in Group B – to continue the Irons' perfect start in continental competition.
Our fifth European victory this term was indebted not just to the Italian but to Alphonse Areola, whose superb late save from a Fábio Silva header ensured the points went the way of those in Claret and Blue.
David Moyes’ outfit are now clear at the top of Group B, with a five-point advantage over second-placed Anderlecht halfway through the group-stage.
In an even match to that point, it was Moyes' trio of substitutions with 20 minutes to be played that made the difference in Brussels.
The first half brought chances at both ends. Saïd Benrahma, who had an early sighter of goal from distance, saw another shot flicked over the bar, while Jarrod Bowen later fired wide of the post. Moyes’ side continued to push for the opening goal in Brussels, and another Irons attack came when Craig Dawson won the ball and drove into the hosts’ half. He then clipped the ball to Bowen, who found the overlapping Vladimír Coufal, but Benrahma was unable to convert the Czech’s cross, with his shot again blocked by a home defender.
At the other end, the Belgian side had some joy in the first half, although the Hammers stood firm. Silva, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, saw his shot blocked by his own teammate from inside the area, while Areola was also forced to dive to his right to push a long-range shot from Yari Verschaeren away.
There were further half-chances from Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini, before the best opportunity of an entertaining first 45 minutes fell to Benrahma. Breaking down the right, Bowen skipped through the Anderlecht shirts and picked out the No22, who could only strike over from close range.
Captain for the third time in his Hammers career and one of nine changes from the Hammers’ starting eleven that defeated Wolves 2-0 last Saturday, Angelo Ogbonna made a good recovering tackle to deny Silva on the cusp of half-time, ensuring an exciting first 45 minutes somehow finished goalless.
Shortly after the interval, Benrahma was involved once more and forced another save from Hendrik van Crombrugge, while Bowen saw his deflected shot win a corner, from which Dawson headed wide. That promising sequence started a spell of pressure from Moyes’ men, with the impressive Flynn Downes repeatedly winning the ball back in the midfield well to ensure the Hammers continued to dictate proceedings.
Moyes then turned to his substitutes’ bench, with Declan Rice, Lucas Paquetá and Scamacca introduced to further the Hammers’ push for victory.
And after a slick move between the trio almost brought the opener when Downes flashed a left-foot effort wide, it was the substitutes who combined again as the Hammers broke the deadlock on 79 minutes. Found by Rice, Coufal headed the ball into the path of Paquetá, who neatly looped the ball to Scamacca. Just as he did against Wolves last weekend, the Italy striker needed little time to find the net as he swivelled and picked out the bottom corner, clinically, with his right foot.
The Hammers’ victory was secured by Areola, who had little action in the second half to that point, but showed his concentration levels had not dipped by diving to his right to stop a powerful Silva header from point-blank range. It was a stupendous stop to ensure the points, and that the Hammers took a huge step towards the Europa Conference League knockouts.
West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Johnson, Dawson, Ogbonna ©, Emerson, Downes, Lanzini (Rice 69), Bowen (Fornals 86), Benrahma (Lucas Paquetá 69), Antonio (Scamacca 69)
Subs not used: Fabiański (GK), Randolph (GK), Cresswell, Kehrer, Zouma, Coventry, Souček, Scarles
Goal: Scamacca 79
Booked: Lanzini, Ogbonna, Coufal, Downes
RSC Anderlecht: Van Crombrugge ©, Debast, Hoedt, Delcroix (Moussa 87), Murillo, Ashimeru (Raman 65), Diawara (Esposito 87), Arnstad, Amuzu (Duranville 46), Verschaeren (Refaelov 80), Fábio Silva
Subs not used: Verbruggen (GK), Coosemans (GK), Vertonghen, Sadiki, Sardella, N’Diaye, Stroeykens, Stassin
Referee: Novak Simovic (Serbia)