KRC Genk 2-2 West Ham United
UEFA Europa League Group H
West Ham United maintained their unbeaten record in the UEFA Europa League with an action-packed 2-2 draw in Genk on Thursday night.
In David Moyes’ 1,000th game in football management, he witnessed his side recover from
the blow of falling behind early in the piece to Joseph Paintsil’s goal to give a much improved second half performance and move in front thanks to Saïd Benrahma’s double.
Maximum points seemed in the Hammers’ grasp, only for Tomáš Souček’s late own goal to level it up and give Genk the draw they probably deserved for an enterprising first half display.
The fans inside Genk’s Cegeka Arena barely had the chance to settle into their seats by the time Paintsil had given them a fourth minute lead.
The home wideman was able to run with purpose onto a through ball in the right channel, hold off the attentions of Issa Diop and shoot low and hard across Alphonse Areola. The Hammers keeper got a hand to his effort but not enough to prevent it finding the net via the far post.
West Ham were rattled by Genk’s fast start and giant striker Paul Onuachu twice went close with headed efforts, first drawing a fine reaction stop from Areola, then nodding over the top when well placed.
Genk’s most presentable chance, though, fell to Junya Ito, who dragged his shot wide of an unguarded net after the speedy Paintsil streaked clear down the right and took Areola out of the equation with his cut back.
West Ham had been distinctly second best to this stage, but came on strong in the closing stages of the opening half and were inches away from levelling on two occasions.
First Benrahma arrived late in the box to meet Arthur Masuaku’s low cross close to goal, but goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt made himself big to block.
Then Vandevoordt was at the heart of the action again, getting a half block on Michail Antonio’s fierce shot to slow its progress enough to allow Bryan Heynen to slide in and clear off the line with Declan Rice lurking.
The Hammers trailed at the break, but came out for the second period with real intent and were level a minute before the hour.
Benrahma started and ended the move, passing wide to Vladimír Coufal before making his way into the area and finishing low from the Czech’s pull back.
West Ham were on the hunt for more by now, and Coufal was close to notching his first in Claret & Blue when he got on the end of Vandevoordt’s parry from a Cresswell cross, but volleyed just past the far post.
Eight minutes from time a piece of individual brilliance from Benrahma turned the game on its head and gave the visitors the lead.
The No22 flicked the ball round his man and burst round the other side into the box before drilling his shot through Vandevoordt and into the net.
Genk had hardly threatened in the second period, but they were able to drag themselves off the canvas and give themselves a share of the spoils in the 88th minute when the unfortunate Souček headed a cross from the right past a helpless Areola.