West Ham pulled off an impressive comeback in their opening game of the Europa League group stage, securing a 3-1 victory against Serbian side Backa Topola. The match saw Mohammed Kudus, a summer signing from Ajax, make his mark by scoring his debut goal for the Hammers.
West Ham had a glorious moment in their recent history when they clinched the Conference League title in June, marking their first European trophy since 1965. However, their transition to the Europa League posed a fresh challenge, and it was evident from the start as they faced a disciplined and determined Backa Topola side.
The visitors, also known as TSC, capitalized on an unfortunate error from Angelo Ogbonna, who lost possession to Petar Stanic, leading to a goal that put Backa Topola ahead. But West Ham, seasoned in European competition now, displayed resilience.
Kudus played a pivotal role in the equalizer, his presence in the box causing Nemanja Petrovic to inadvertently put the ball into his own net from Said Benrahma’s cross. Shortly thereafter, Kudus notched his maiden West Ham goal, heading in a James Ward-Prowse corner with precision.
The Hammers sealed their victory when substitute Tomas Soucek headed home another Ward-Prowse corner late in the game.
Before the match, West Ham manager David Moyes had called for his team to create “magical moments” reminiscent of their recent successes. While this victory may not be on par with their Conference League triumph, Moyes acknowledged the need for a methodical approach in European competitions.
Moyes was pleased with how his team regained control of the game after some first-half frustrations and Ogbonna’s error. He also recognized that Backa Topola’s defensive approach was something they had themselves employed against other teams.
The nine changes made by Moyes from the weekend’s starting lineup showed that he intended to rest key players, but it led to a lack of attacking cohesion against an opponent focused on defending.
Despite the challenges, West Ham dominated possession and created several scoring opportunities. Ward-Prowse’s precise corner deliveries played a crucial role in the comeback, further solidifying his importance to the team.
West Ham’s European success continued with this victory, positioning them as Group A leaders as they head to Freiburg for their next game on October 5. The German side currently sits in second place in the group after their 3-2 win against Olympiakos.
In this match, James Ward-Prowse earned the title of Player of the Match with an average rating of 8.15, underlining his significance in West Ham’s performance.
The Hammers may not have conjured up magic, but their methodical approach secured the desired result, setting them on a promising path in the Europa League.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Europa League Victory
Q: Who scored West Ham’s first goal in the match against Backa Topola?
A: Mohammed Kudus scored West Ham’s first goal in the match, marking his debut goal for the club.
Q: How did Backa Topola take the lead in the game?
A: Backa Topola took the lead following an unfortunate error from Angelo Ogbonna, which allowed Petar Stanic to seize possession and score.
Q: What role did James Ward-Prowse play in West Ham’s comeback?
A: James Ward-Prowse was instrumental in West Ham’s comeback, delivering precise corner kicks that led to key goals, showcasing his importance to the team.
Q: How did West Ham’s manager, David Moyes, view the team’s performance?
A: David Moyes acknowledged the challenges faced in breaking down a disciplined opponent and emphasized the need for a methodical approach in European competitions.
Q: What is West Ham’s position in Group A after this victory?
A: Following this victory, West Ham is currently the leader in Group A as they prepare for their next match against Freiburg on October 5.