Monday, October 18, 2021

West Ham 2-0 Rapid Vienna: Rice and Benrahma on target as Hammers win in Europe again

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 30 Sep 2021

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Declan Rice and Said Benrahma were both on target as West Ham won their second successive Europa League fixture, beating Rapid Vienna 2-0 at the London Stadium.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Michail Antonio combined well to set Rice up for a simple, close-range finish in the 29th minute and Benrahma added gloss to the scoreline deep into stoppage time, though the Hammers could have won by an even greater margin.

West Ham manager David Moyes, who made seven changes to the team that snatched a late 2-1 win against Leeds United in the Premier League, saw his men dominate an out-of-sorts Rapid.

The victory sees the London club sit on top of Group H, three points clear of Dinamo Zagreb and Genk.

West Ham started brightly and struck the woodwork twice inside the opening 27 minutes, with Rice glancing Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick off one post and Craig Dawson heading the left-back’s corner against the other.

Just two minutes after the second of those chances, the Hammers were ahead. Yarmolenko picked out Antonio’s run into the box with a ball over the top and the forward squared across goal to Rice, who tapped into an empty net.

Ben Johnson thought he had given a penalty away when Marco Grull went down in the box in the 70th minute, but after a VAR check that lasted nearly three minutes, the original decision was overturned.

Substitute Jarrod Bowen had a golden opportunity to double the advantage with nine minutes of normal time to play, but somehow blasted over after rounding the goalkeeper.

The Hammers’ dominance was finally rewarded with a second goal four minutes into added time, however, as Benrahma skipped inside his marker and curled a low shot into the corner to finish the game with a flourish.

What does it mean? West Ham can compete on multiple fronts

Having also made changes against Dinamo, Moyes went even further with the alterations this time as he shuffled his pack, though he was rewarded for his trust in his squad players as West Ham won comfortably again in Europe.

The Hammers are seventh in the Premier League, having lost just one game so far, and also knocked Manchester United out of the League Cup this month. It seems that Moyes has the depth at his disposal to be competitive on multiple fronts this season.

Rice scores again

Rice has already matched his highest-ever tally in any competition for a season with goals in back-to-back Europa League games. The midfielder only had two attempts but is getting into advanced areas with greater frequency, suggesting he may have added a new string to his bow.

Kuhbauer under pressure

Rapid head coach Dietmar Kuhbauer finds himself under immense pressure, having lost both Europa League group-stage games this season and sitting 11th in the Austrian Bundesliga, only above WSG Wattens on goal difference. Five defeats and just two wins from nine league games leaves him in a precarious position.

What’s next?

West Ham host Brentford in a London derby as they return to Premier League action on Sunday, while Rapid face WSG Wattens as they look to revive their stuttering season.

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