West Ham United showed their quality in Europe again as they comfortably brushed aside Genk 3-0 at the London Stadium in the Europa League. The result means that the east London outfit have taken maximum points on offer in the three group stage matches played so far. The victory also puts the Hammers six-points clear of their Group H rivals.
Unlike local rivals Tottenham Hotspur earlier this evening, they showed how to win a game with a changed eleven and highlighted their quality in depth. The first-half may not have been the type of performance we have been used to seeing from David Moyes’ side recently, but they were still able to find their way through to goal just before the break when Craig Dawson rose highest to head home Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
That goal meant that he is the highest-scoring Premier League defender in 2021 across all competitions, alongside Manchester City’s John Stones, with five. He has been a revelation since his switch to east London, making his £2million fee look a steal with every passing game.
It was his defensive partner Issa Diop who headed in the second after the break from another sublime Cresswell delivery, before Jarrod Bowen joined the Frenchman in opening his European account for the third, capitalising on their momentum and a lapse of concentration in their opponents.
With another impressive display, the Hammers are showing how much of a force they could be in this competition, and being on the brink of the knockout stages they can start to plan for the next phase of the tournament as the side that no one would want to face. With the new format designed to send the group winners straight to the round of 16, West Ham will be driven to ensure they remain at the top of the pile.
In terms of their attacking threat, people questioned how much they would carry with Michail Antonio out of the side and with three goals this evening, West Ham have shown how well-stocked they are for goals across the pitch.
North of the border, Steven Gerrard will have enjoyed his Thursday evening as Rangers recorded their first victory of the season in the Europa League to give his side a major boost in the hunt for a place in the knockout stages, beating Brondby 2-0.
Defender Leon Balogun put the Glasgow side ahead before striker Kemar Roofe scored his 25th goal in a Rangers shirt to double their lead before half-time. Gerrard’s players rallied when they needed to the most and their excellent result at Ibrox Stadium was boosted by Lyon beating Sparta Prague, leaving just a point between them and the Czech side heading into the second-half of the group stage.
The performance was just what everyone associated with the club needed to take into the remaining fixtures, and with two away ties to come, it may just prove crucial. They will be thankful that they are yet to welcome Sparta Prague to Ibrox as that already looks to be shaping up to be a crunch clash in Group A.
Europa League Full Time Results
Fenerbahce 2-2 Antwerp
Ludogorets 0-1 Sporting Braga
Midtjylland 1-1 Red Star Belgrade
Lazio 0-0 Marseille
Real Betis 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Rapid Vienna 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Sparta Prague 3-4 Lyon
Rangers 2-0 Brondby
PSV 1-2 Monaco
Sturm Graz 0-1 Real Sociedad
Napoli 3-0 Legia Warsaw
Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 Olympiakos
Lokomotiv Moscow 0-1 Galatasaray
West Ham 3-0 Genk