West Ham surged six points clear at the top of Europa League Group H with a convincing 3-0 win at home to KRC Genk.
The Hammers made a slow start but stole in front on the stroke of half time when Craig Dawson headed in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
David Moyes’s men then put the game to bed with a lethal two-goal burst just prior to the hour. First, Issa Diop headed in another Cresswell set piece via the crossbar before Jarrod Bowen somehow fired a shot through Maarten Vandevoordt in the visiting goal.
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The Belgian side had made some good early running with Paul Onuachu heading just wide with the game still scoreless, but West Ham didn’t look back in what proved to be a one-sided second half.
The result means the Hammers are well clear at the top of the pool with nine points from three outings. Dinamo Zagreb, Rapid Vienna and Genk are all locked on three.
Next up in Group H, West Ham travel to Genk on November 4. Dinamo Zagreb host Rapid Vienna.
Happy Hammers. Moyes spoke of it being a happy club in his pre-match press conference and there’s no doubt there is a very real feel-good factor about West Ham right now.
They are flying both home and abroad with just two defeats from 12 outings in all competitions this term, and they are just the one point off the top four places in the Premier League. Once again a Champions League berth may be beyond them come the end of the season, but it remains exciting times for Hammers fans and Moyes deserves huge credit for what he has achieved since returning to the club.
The European adventure has been one joyful experience after another and they look all-but sure to qualify from this group now. They could even afford to give top scorer Michail Antonio the night off while the likes of Cresswell and Declan Rice were substituted early with a home clash with Spurs coming up on Sunday.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Aaron Cresswell (West Ham). The full back was one of the home side’s main threats down the left in a first half where they were slow to get going. Once again demonstrated his quality in the attacking third with a pair of assists that helped pave the path to another Europa League victory.
WEST HAM: Areola 7, Johnson 7, Diop 8, Dawson 8, Cresswell 8, Soucek 7, Rice 7, Vlasic 6, Lanzini 6, Yarmolenko 6, Bowen 7. Subs: Fredericks 6, Noble 6, Benrahma n/a, Fornals n/a, Chesters n/a.
GENK: Vandevoordt 6, Preciado 6, Cuesta 6, Lucumi 6, Arteaga 6, Thostvedt 6, Heynen 6, Hrosovsky 6, Bongonda 6, Ito 7, Onuachu 7. Subs: Sadick 6, Tresor 6, Ugbo 6, Toma n/a, Oyen n/a.
25’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! Bowen somehow fails to connect cleanly from eight yards out after Lanzini and Johnson had carved the away side open down the right. A few moments earlier, Soucek saw a back post header well saved.
37’ – GENK CHANCE! Onuachu rises well to meet a left-wing cross ahead of Areola but his looping header drops just wide of the far post.
45+1’ - GOAL! – West Ham 1-0 Genk. Dawson rises to meet Cresswell's left-wing corner and his header loops over the man on the line and into the net.
57’ - GOAL! – West Ham 2-0 Genk. The Hammers double their advantage. Diop gets ahead of his marker to bullet a header in off the bar from Cresswell's left-wing free kick.
58’ - GOAL! – West Ham 3-0 Genk. Game over. Bowen makes it two in two minutes for the hosts as he surges in from the right and fires a shot home. The keeper really should have done better.
No Premier League defender has scored more goals in all club competitions in 2021 than West Ham’s Craig Dawson (5 – level with John Stones)
Cresswell has assisted eight goals from dead-ball situations in all competitions since the start of last season, the most of any Premier League player.
Genk have lost all three of their away matches against English opponents to date. They were also beaten 0-5 by Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League in 2011-12 before falling 1-2 to Liverpool in the same competition in November 2019.
West Ham are 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 won the competition (Sevilla in 2019-20).
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