West Ham United vs Anderlecht

Four things we loved as Hammers secure knockout place with Anderlecht win

1. Post-Christmas European football secured

Needing victory to secure a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League knockouts, West Ham clinched a deserved win over visiting Anderlecht thanks to a clinical first-half showing in east London. 

A delicious Saïd Benrahma free-kick brought the opener, before Jarrod Bowen thrashed in the Hammers’ second from the edge of the area. There were chances for a third goal too, as Gianluca Scamacca, Pablo Fornals and Emerson all went close in the second-half.

But those two goals proved to be enough to secure a place in the knockouts. David Moyes’ outfit now have two group stage matches remaining against Silkeborg IF and FSCB, where they need just a solitary point to secure the top spot in Group B and secure direct progression to the round of 16.

David Moyes shakes hands with Vladimír Coufal

2. Jarrod Bowen equals our European scoring record

After Saïd Benrahma struck the opener at London Stadium Jarrod Bowen doubled the lead in a typical fashion. 

The Hammers No20 found the top corner from the edge of the area with his fifth goal in all competitions this campaign. His third strike in his last four matches was his record-equalling sixth European goal for the Club - he is now level for European goals with David Cross and Johnny Byrne.

“I have just been told about that record,” Bowen said, smiling. “So hopefully there are many more years of European football, and I can keep scoring and setting records.

“It's about being there if the ball comes across to you. And then it's about being clinical when you get that opportunity. So thankfully I was tonight. It was a good night's work for us."

Jarrod Bowen celebrates his goal against Anderlecht

3. Four wins from four Group B matches 

Back-to-back wins over RSC Anderlecht meant that West Ham’s 100 per cent record in Group B remains intact with four matches played. Only the Hammers and Spanish club Villarreal have won all four group matches.

A 3-1 win over FCSB in August set to the tone for a formidable run of form that also saw the Hammers defeat Silkeborg IF 3-2 in Denmark. 

A 1-0 win then came in Belgium, before a 2-1 triumph at London Stadium on Thursday evening. A late penalty from Sebastiano Esposito was not enough for the visitors in east London, so West Ham’s impressive run continues. 

Including UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying, it is now six wins from six continental matches for David Moyes’ men.

Bowen celebrates

4. Strength in depth key again

David Moyes made eight changes from West Ham United’s last outing against Fulham, with only Jarrod Bowen, Aaron Cresswell and Lucas Paquetá retained.

After a man-of-the-match performance in the reverse fixture, Flynn Downes was similarly assured in the centre of the park with Manuel Lanzini. 

With Łukasz Fabiański, Thilo Kehrer and Michail Antonio not included in the matchday squad, Moyes turned to the Academy of Football. 

Ollie Scarles, who travelled with the squad to Anderlecht, Keenan Appiah-Forson, Freddie Potts and goalkeeper Krizstian Hegyi were part of the matchday 22. And, although none featured on the night, it was good to see the Academy of Football showcased once more.

AFC Bournemouth ticket graphic