West Ham United’s Academy of Football prospects did the Club proud as no fewer than eight featured in a 1-0 UEFA Europa League Group H defeat by GNK Dinamo Zagreb.
Five youngsters started alongside captain Mark Noble and two more were introduced from the substitutes’ bench on a memorable Thursday evening in front of nearly 50,000 supporters at London Stadium.
The Hammers went into the game unbeaten in their opening five ties but, with progress direct to the round of 16 already assured, David Moyes opted to rest many of his regular starters against a Dinamo side who knew a point would take them through to the play-off round after Christmas.
And, after Croatia international forward Mislav Oršić’s spectacular third-minute opener, the visitors held on for the points they needed to go through.
But, in truth, the final score did not matter, as Moyes gave European debuts to five Academy players - Aji Alese, Harrison Ashby, Emmanuel Longelo, Jamal Baptiste and Sonny Perkins.