West Ham United may have booked their spot in the UEFA Europa League knockout stages with Thursday’s 2-2 draw at Genk – but for Aaron Cresswell and his teammates the job is far from complete.
Victory in Rapid Vienna in their next fixture – or a point at home in the final group game against Dinamo Zagreb – would secure top spot and passage straight through to the Round of 16, avoiding the Play-Off round that second place finishers need to negotiate.
Cresswell is well aware of the importance of finishing first in Group H and is determined to ensure the Hammers achieve just that.
“We’re a bit frustrated with the result,” he admitted. “We felt we completely dominated the second half. In the first half we know it wasn’t good enough from our point of view. We made a sloppy start and then they grew into the game and played some good stuff.
“But in the second half we dominated and should have scored the chances we had.
“We’ve played four games now and are undefeated with ten points. With two games to go we want to top the group and finish strongly.”
Having fallen behind to Joseph Paintsil’s early strike, Saïd Benrahma’s double turned the contest on its head before an unfortunate own goal for Tomáš Souček meant it finished 2-2, and Cresswell was full of praise for Benrahma’s impact.
“Saïd picked up some great positions tonight in the hole and when we got the ball to him and up the pitch he was creating,” he explained.
“It was a great finish for his second – he took a touch inside when the lad got tight to him and made a great finish in the near post.”