Player by Player Analysis: FCSB 0-3 West Ham Utd

David Moyes was given the chance to start a couple of youth players on Thursday as West Ham had already progressed from their Europa Conference League group before facing FCSB.

Sixteen year-old Oliver Scarles started at left wing-back and wowed fans with his ability on the ball throughout while Divin Mubama featured up top and saw a debut goal cruelly awarded as a Joyskim Dawa Tchakonte own goal. The youth appearances only increased from the bench as the match progressed with the Hammers cruising through in a brilliant night for the Academy of Football.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola (6)
Pretty much unbothered throughout.

Ben Johnson (7)
Although Johnson lacked composure in the first half and pressed out of the back three only to be beaten on a number of occasions, the defender improved as the game progressed and had a much more stable second half showing before being replaced by Kaelan Casey for the final 15 minutes. His delightful floated ball over the top for Pablo Fornals unlocked the FCSB defence for the opening goal and it’s these moments of quality that keep hopes high for the 22 year-old’s future progression.

Nayef Aguerd (7)
This was Aguerd’s second appearance as he returns from a long spell out with an ankle injury and the Moroccan looked a little rusty at times, particularly in the physical duels as he didn’t play with the necessary assertiveness to dominate from the central centre-back position, but he grew into the game and finished strongly with a wonderful last ditch block to deny Risto Radunović a consolation goal. Most exciting though was the defender’s obvious quality on the ball and his ability to pick out accurate switches and line-breaking passes will make a huge difference to the West Ham defence after the World Cup.

Angelo Ogbonna (8)
Ogbonna has generally looked unsteady this season as he himself recovers from long term injury but the Italian looked back to his best on Thursday night as he put in a classy display from the left side of the back three. Ogbonna dominated from crosses, made a number of excellently timed tackles and interceptions, and even went on a mazy run forwards after exchanging passes with Manuel Lanzini before eventually seeing his close range effort saved by FCSB keeper Ștefan Târnovanu.

Vladimír Coufal (7)
It’s been a difficult season for Coufal as he has lost favour with the manager while struggling to recapture the kind of form that saw him being compared with some of the very best full-backs in the league just a couple of seasons ago. Again, his lack of composure under pressure caused issues here as he was easily rushed into making errors on the ball but, with the opposition struggling to get to grips with the match, the Czech’s offensive quality was able to shine through at times. There were some nice instances of combination play down the right and a couple of perfect crosses – one of which led to the second goal.

Conor Coventry (8)
After failing to really leave much of a mark on the Conference League group stage to this point, Coventry stepped up a level in Romania. His ability to time interventions to break up play has never been in much doubt but his willingness to take risks in possession and to act at speed has been questionable. Although the FCSB midfield was wafer thin for much of the game, Coventry took on a positive role of playing through with quality and responded well to pressure throughout.

Manuel Lanzini (8)
If the accuracy wasn’t quite total in the first half, Lanzini’s second half performance last night was near perfect. The Argentine dominated the midfield with his ability to take the ball in deep areas and play passes through the lines while advancing forwards to constantly present himself as an option. A late strike denied by Târnovanu, after Lanzini was shifted forwards to accommodate Freddie Potts, would have deservedly capped an exceptional display.

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Oliver Scarles (6)
Much of the attention around this game has quite rightly been focused on sixteen year-old midfielder Ollie Scarles. Playing at left wing-back on Thursday, the youngster put in an outstanding performance that contained tonnes of offensive quality. Not only did he put in brilliant crosses that preceded both second half goals but Scarles also nailed a delivery in the first half that should’ve led to an opener for Mubama and popped up at the back stick in the later stages for a huge chance that he somehow managed to miss. Given that, this rating may seem incredibly harsh but, as Moyes himself noted in his post-match interview, Scarles hit a bit of a physical wall in the final 25 minutes which left his concentration drifting and his performance falling to pieces. It’s a shame that he wasn’t withdrawn, the manager mentioned that they did consider it, because he would’ve been on for a fantastic score!

Flynn Downes (8)
Again playing a position I’m sure that he didn’t imagine himself featuring in when he transferred across from Swansea City, Downes performed really well against FCSB. One of the crucial elements that he adds to the forward line when playing so high up is his ability to read the game and preempt situations where he can press to force turnovers or win the ball back himself. At times he can look a little nervous to fully express himself around the box – he needs too much encouragement to turn and drive forwards – but he did provide a few moments of quality and could quite easily have scored if not for a brilliant Târnovanu reaction save.

Pablo Fornals (10)
The first 10 of the season goes to Fornals after a difficult run of individual form that has seen the Spaniard lose his place in the Premier League starting lineup. Fornals was simply exceptional here – he was a class above everyone else on the pitch as he strolled around midfield popping it back and forth, advancing play, and providing countless moments of quality in the final third. He thoroughly deserved his two goals for a virtually faultless display.

Divin Mubama (6)
Starting up front for the first team for the first time at 18 is a big job and, for the first ten minutes, Mubama looked a little overwhelmed by the size of the task ahead of him – quite literally, FCSB’s centre-back Tchakonte is absolutely huge. And although the physical battle was often difficult for Mubama, he struggled to hold the ball up with much success throughout, his pressing was relentless and continually provided a good platform for his teammates. He showed good instincts in the box to get on the end of a couple of brilliant deliveries from wide and he should have a goal to his name, I hate that deflections like this are given as own goals.

Harrison Ashby (9)
When Ashby can come on and provide the level of quality that he did in this match for twenty-odd minutes, I’m not entirely sure why he doesn’t get the opportunity to feature more often. Though he may not be developed enough defensively to feature as an orthodox right-back at a higher level, his ability to provide quality in the final third surely makes him an enticing option at wing-back.

Freddie Potts (8)
It may have been like passing through a series of training cones towards the end of the match but Potts came on and took a real grip of the midfield after replacing Fornals. The nineteen year-old showed his physical strength, technical assurance and composure in a seriously impressive cameo appearance.

Keenan Appiah-Forson (5)
Forson provided bundles of energy but struggled to get into the game much and looked a little rattled in possession as FCSB pushed for a consolation goal in the final moments.

Kamarai Simon-Swyer, Kaelan Casey – N/A

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