Friday 22 Oct
Updated Friday 22 Oct 11:30
Opinion

Three things we loved about West Ham United's win over KRC Genk

West Ham celebrate against Genk

1. An historic start

West Ham United’s 3-0 UEFA Europa League Group H victory over KRC Genk means the Hammers have won their opening three matches of a European campaign proper for the first time in the Club’s history.

David Moyes’ side followed up 2-0 wins away to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb and home to Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna with another professional performance in continental competition at London Stadium.

In six previous attempts – the Irons did win their opening three qualifiers in 2015/16 – West Ham had never previously recorded a hat-trick of victories.
In their first three European campaigns – the 1964/65, 1965/66 and 1975/76 European Cup Winners’ Cup – and again in the 1999/00 UEFA Cup, West Ham won two and drew one of their opening three ties.

In the 1980/81 European Cup Winners’ Cup, John Lyall’s side won two and lost one, while the 2006/07 UEFA Cup run lasted just two matches, both defeats by Italian side Palermo, under Alan Pardew.

So, Thursday evening was the first time the Hammers have made it three out of three, and Moyes will now be eyeing a fourth straight win, and qualification for the next round, when his squad head to Belgium for the return fixture with Genk on 4 November.

West Ham also became only the second English side to win each of their first three group games in a single UEFA Europa League campaign without conceding, after Spurs in 2013/14. The last team from any nation to do so, Spanish club Sevilla in 2019/20, went on to win the tournament…

 

2. Everyone is contributing

David Moyes has repeatedly challenged every member of his squad to step up, whenever they are called upon, and give their all for West Ham United.

The result has been a succession of impressive performances from players who might, in different circumstances, have been upset about being left out of the Premier League starting XI.

The likes of Craig Dawson, Issa Diop, Ben Johnson and Alphonse Areola have played huge roles in the Hammers’ perfect start to the UEFA Europa League campaign.

 

West Ham celebrate against Genk

 

All four have started all three ties, helping the Irons to keep three clean sheets, while Dawson and Diop showed their value in the opposition penalty area by heading – or shouldering! – in West Ham’s first two goals in Thursday’s 3-0 Group H win over KRC Genk.

When you look at the quartet’s record in all competitions this season, the statistics are even more impressive.

Dawson has played nine times and is yet to finish on the losing side, winning seven and drawing two, keeping five clean sheets and conceding just six goals!
Diop’s four appearances and Areola’s three have all ended in victory and clean sheets, while West Ham are also yet to concede a single goal in Johnson’s five appearances spanning 361 minutes on the pitch!

 

3. Another Academy debut!

David Moyes again showed his willingness to give Academy of Football graduates an opportunity to impress at first-team level by giving a debut to 19-year-old Dan Chesters.

The midfielder, who has returned from injury to put together an impressive run of form for Dmitri Halajko’s development team in Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy and was consequently invited to train with the seniors ahead of Thursday’s tie.

And, with West Ham United cruising in the closing stages, Moyes called the No51 in from his warm-up and sent him on in front of more than 45,000 fans to make his first appearance in Claret and Blue.

 

Dan Chesters makes his West Ham United debut

 

Chesters may have had just a few minutes on the London Stadium pitch, but he still made his mark, earning a cheer for chasing back into his own half to make a successful tackle and completing both of his pass attempts.

Moyes was happy with the teenager’s attitude and shared his pride at blooding his ninth Academy graduate in two spells as manager.

The Scot explained: “There’s nothing better than getting a young player a game because you can see their face, you can see the nervousness, you can see the excitement, and you can imagine how it feels for their families to see their son or brother or whoever it is get onto the pitch. It’s a great thing and it’s one of the pleasures of being a football manager.”

 

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