Anderlecht 0-1 West Ham: Gianluca Scamacca grabs winner off bench as West Ham stay perfect in Conference League
West Ham are in a commanding position in Europa Conference League Group B after making it three wins from three matches with a 1-0 victory at Anderlecht. Substitute Gianluca Scamacca struck the only goal of the game in the 79th minute to move the Hammers five points clear of second-placed Anderlecht. Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen both started for David Moyes' side.
Just as it looked like the game was going to end as a stalemate, West Ham substitute Scamacca placed a low strike into the far corner from inside the area in the 79th minute to snatch the points away from the Belgian side.
Anderlecht almost had an instant equaliser, but Fabio Silva’s header was spectacularly saved at point-blank range by Alphonse Areola. West Ham held on to make it three wins from three group games.
Despite Anderlecht's indifferent league form coming into the game, Felice Mazzu's side made it an open match for large spells, and West Ham did well to eventually show their authority and get the goal that their play merited and deserved.
The decision to bring on Scamacca, Lucas Paqueta and Declan Rice with 20 minutes to go proved to be a great call, as both the Italian and Brazilian combined for the winning strike, with Rice also involved at the start of the move.
West Ham certainly lacked a clinical nature in front of goal though despite their moments of good build-up play, as they only had three shots on target from 18 total attempts on goal. However, the most important thing for Moyes and his team will be that they are yet to drop points in any of their group games and remain on course to qualify for the next round.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Flynn Downes
West Ham United's Flynn Downes fires in a shot on goal during the UEFA Europa Conference League group B match between RSC Anderlecht and West Ham United at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
The 23-year-old, making just his second West Ham start of the season, once again showed his qualities in central midfield as he did not put a foot wrong for his hometown club.
It may have been an overwhelming feeling being the main focal point in the centre of the park without either Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek beside him in the double pivot from the beginning, but Downes took everything in his stride and moved the ball well. Having struggled so far to get his chance in the team, this performance may make David Moyes think again about his main midfield pairing.
West Ham United: Areola 7, Ogbonna 6, Johnson 6, Dawson 7, Coufal 6, Emerson 6, Downes 7, Lanzini 6, Bowen 7, Antonio 6, Benrahma 7. Subs: Rice 6, Paqueta 7, Scamacca 7, Fornals 6.
23’ - GOOD SAVE - Anderlecht break at pace down the left flank as Verschaeren bears down on goal following a good forward run, but his low shot from just outside the penalty area towards the near corner is tipped behind by Areola!
40’ - BIG CHANCE! - That was West Ham's best chance! Bowen is released down the right flank and is in acres of space. He then evades Hoedt's sliding challenge before he advances to the right-side of the penalty area. He then cuts it back for Benrahma in the centre, but the winger flashes his first-time strike over the bar when it seemed easier to get it on target!
71' - WIDE! - West Ham go close down the other end! The visitors break, and have three players in the attacking third of the pitch to match up with Anderlecht. Scamacca gets it from Bowen in the area, before flicking it into the path of Downes to his left, but the young midfielder's strike from range goes wide of the near post!
79' - GOAL! (Gianluca Scamacca) - Scamacca strikes for West Ham and they finally have their goal! Rice picks out Coufal with a nice cross-field pass, and the Czech defender heads it back to the path of Paqueta, who clips a pass forward for Scamacca in the penalty area, and the Italian places a nice shot low into the far corner!
83' - WHAT A SAVE! - Areola makes a stunning stop! Silva's powerful header from the centre of the area is stopped at point-blank range by the Frenchman, who makes an outstanding save to keep the game level!
West Ham seal their first win in their history over Anderlecht in their second ever meeting - they previously came up against each other back in 1976 in the final of the Cup Winners' Cup.
Anderlecht concede their first goal in the Conference League this season after keeping clean sheets in their previous two group games.
Gianluca Scamacca has now scored for West Ham in back-to-back matches for the first time this season.