David Moyes was in an upbeat mood after his West Ham United team showed character again to secure a 2-2 UEFA Europa League Group H draw at KRC Genk.
As the manager reached 1,000 senior games as a manager, the Hammers started slowly in Belgium and fell behind within four minutes before conceding a succession of further chances to their hosts, who found Alphonse Areola in superb form yet again.
However, the Irons belatedly sprang to life and could have been level before half-time, only for last-ditch defending and fine goalkeeping to keep them out.
The equaliser finally arrived on the hour-mark, when Vladimir Coufal’s cross was swept in by Said Benrahma.
The Algerian looked to have won it for West Ham with a sensational individual strike with eight minutes to play, only for an unfortunate own-goal from Tomas Soucek to deny the Londoners a fourth straight group-stage win.
Despite conceding a late leveller, Moyes was pleased with the way his team fought back to maintain their unbeaten record in Europe and put themselves closer to a place in the Europa League knockout stages.
It was a test for us, it really was. In the first half, we didn’t start the game as well as we have done, but credit to Genk because they did.
More for them, I think they probably felt they had to go for it in some way, but we knew it and we didn’t sort of match them as well as I’d hoped.
I even felt in the ten or 15 minutes before half-time that we had some great chances to score, but we didn’t take them.
I’m not disappointed. I’m thinking that if we win at home and draw away then we’re doing OK.
I think there were bits of the game we didn’t enjoy and we gave up too many opportunities in the opening 20 minutes.
I thought our football after that was very good, but it was just about finishing it off and making the right passes and right decisions and we didn’t quite do that.
We played well in the second half and the more disappointing thing was maybe that we didn’t get a third goal after we went 2-1 up, which we maybe should have done.
Because it came late on, we were trying to see it through, but unfortunately it was an own-goal that saw us draw.
Said Benrahma played well tonight.
I thought that although his goals were important, his all-round performance was better tonight, so I was pleased with him.
The support out here in Belgium has been great, it really has, and this is what we qualified for Europe for, so the supporters could get away and see their team play.
I think the team are doing them proud, I really do. We’re playing away, we’re trying to win the games and we were a bit unlucky not to win tonight, but we have to give Genk a lot of credit because they made it hard for us as well.
We said we wanted to be through in the Europa League and it’s up to us now to try and win the group.
The big thing was to have European football after Christmas, and I think we all think we’ve done it now with having ten points.
We’ve had a really good month and the team has played very well, so hopefully we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.