Hammers win against Anderlecht sends us through to knockout stages of Europa Conference League
Hope everyone is safe and well.
A quick Marsh family update – we’ve been totally floored by the current flu bug doing the rounds – so I missed our home win against Fulham and added to that couldn’t get any commentary on the match until late in the game as I looked after Mrs Marsh and our boys. Then I got the aches and pains myself and as we both work with vulnerable people in our day jobs, a few COVID test kits later confirmed it was just the seasonal bug. Uuurgh!
But I managed to pick myself up for our Europa Conference League home win against Anderlecht to continue our 100% record in this seasons group stage to all but guarantee we go through to the knockout stages as our European tour continues.
I felt we should have had this match comfortably under our belt by half time allowing for some careful substitutions as we closed the game out but that’s not the West Ham way and our injury concerns continue in defence with the loss of Angelo Ogbonna after only 22minutes and then his replacement Craig Dawson being substituted 15mins from the end of the match. With Nayef Aguerd still a little way off returning to the first team squad, our defensive woes continue.
We top group B on maximum points after a dominant first have that saw Said Benrahma’s well taken free kick settle the nerves on 14th minute. Benrahma is capable of flashes of excellence only to be balanced by moments of shear frustration that often sees good play wasted in a dead end or missed placed pass. But, he had the free kick perfectly struck as it had enough pace to beat the Anderlecht wall and go beyond Hendrik van Crombrugge into the net.
Our second came from Bowen on 30 minutes, his third European goal this season and 6th overall in Europe equaling the records of Johnny Byrne and David Cross and put the game beyond Anderlecht, who despite some well managed build up play, did not offer much af a threat going forward.
The second half played out against unpleasant scenes in the away end with Anderlecht fans setting off flares – which they did at the start of the match, throwing them along with seats over to the Hammers fans, who responded near the closes stages of the match. At times the pitch was covered in smoke from the flares and and you can only imagine the damage done to the away end of the stadium. How fans manage to get these into the ground is beyond me. I spoke to some of the police outside the ground after the match as I waited for the Anderlecht fans to be escorted away from the ground and they expressed their frustration that stewards don’t check bags thoroughly enough.
Nothing in the news about those scenes but you can expect some consequences surely for such behaviour, especially with a spectator running onto the pitch.
That is now 6 wins in 7 games in all competitions. We just now need to keep up this excellent form until the break for the World Cup that will see us in a healthy position in the Premier League and having reached the knockout stages of the Europa League. Who would have thought that at the start of the season?
Enjoy the photos from the game.