Viborg FF 0-3 West Ham United
Thursday, 25th August 2022
by Chris Wilkerson
It’s another year of European football at the London Stadium after West Ham comfortably beat Viborg in Denmark, a 3-0 victory giving the Hammers a 6-1 aggregate win to qualify for the group stages of the Europa Conference League.There was a second West Ham goal for Gianluca Scamacca in the first half to get rid of any tension around the game, before one apiece in the second half for Benrahma and Soucek rounded off qualification and saw David Moyes's side ease through the game.
In a first outing of West Ham's ridiculous third shirt, a strong side with six changes from the defeat to Brighton took control of the match early on and allowed the Danes nothing like the ease of play they had in the first leg. In that game, Viborg held their own on the ball, but were overcome by West Ham's individual quality. Here, the Hammers were just the better team in every department.
West Ham started well, with half chances for the striker Scamacca giving Viborg warning that their visitors had not come to sleepwalk through this second leg. A good shot from the edge of the area was followed by an opening at the front post a few minutes later, the Italian showing good movement to get across his man before his stooped header went wide.
It's those little bits of movement, be it intelligence or desire, that can often be the difference for a goalscorer. Viborg didn't learn from this glimpse into Scamacca's play, and it soon cost them.
After lovely work on the left, a Fornals cross was cleared to the right flank. Johnson retrieved the ball and laid it back to Soucek, whose low cross was perfect for the run of Scamacca. Again, the Italian stepped across his marker and got to the ball first, flicking a volley at goal from six yards out that had too much for the goalkeeper to stop. With just over 20 minutes on the clock, West Ham had that little extra breathing room, and any fears of a tension-filled comeback were now cast aside.
The goal highlighted two things - another example of that striker's movement that Scamacca has, and also a reminder that recent criticism of Tomas Soucek's use of the ball has been over-the-top. Not many would have wanted Soucek there to hit it first time, but his delivery was perfect.
Viborg, wonderfully supported by a crowd that never went into a lull, played their way and continued to pass neatly and look up for the runs of Grot. The striker, both tall and quick, threatened West Ham, brushing off Kehrer just inside his own half and driving at goal, beating Lanzini before firing wide from the edge of the West Ham box.
The hosts threatened on crosses, too. A corner missed the head of an oncoming attacker when he seemed certain to score, and then as half time approached, Bonde got up well to meet a header eight yards from goal, only to head weakly.
Those were chances, but the Danes really should have scored on the brink of half time. The impressive Said slipped Grot through into the area, and he squeezed a shot at goal from close range and a very tight angle. Areola blocked well, but it spilled out on the rebound to Lonwijk. He looked certain to score, but his desperate flick at goal was smothered brilliantly by Areola, reacting well to get up and throw himself at the second chance.
Moyes didn't look impressed, back on the touchline after his suspension for the first leg. His side started the second half back at a tempo that gave them control of the game, and started to work through the gears.
There were openings that went nowhere, opportunities for Cornet to do more on two breakaways, whilst Johnson produced a beautiful cross curling around the back of the defence for the Ivorian to flick wide on the stretch.
But it was only a little over five minutes in the second half that the tie was put to bed. And it was the simplest football, too. A goal kick was flicked on by Scamacca, dropping perfectly to Cornet, who volleyed it first time around the corner for Benrahma to run through on goal. He settled himself and then passed it in to score his first of the season.
10 minutes later, it was 3-0. This time, Cresswell produced a beautiful cross from the left that the German Kehrer rose powerfully to head at goal. The goalkeeper could only parry it out direct to Soucek, who had gambled on just such a thing happening, and he converted easily to make it three.
There was still time left for a raft of changes, with Antonio, Downes, Coventry, Zouma and Oko-flex introduced as time ticked away and West Ham showed their confidence in the job being done.
Cornet could have made it all the more sweeter, only to blaze over with an open goal in front of him. Scamacca and Benrahma combined brilliantly, the Algerian running beyond him in the way anyone who watched Scamacca prior to his signing would say is key to get the best out of the Italian. Into the area, Benrahma squared to Cornet, but the bounce on it just made it a little harder, although not so hard to excuse Cornet passing it over the bar from eight yards out.
Viborg still threatened, and will wonder how they didn't score after one quite perfect cross from the left flashed across goal and found a Viborg head, but the effort glanced wide from six yards when it just needed power.
But they couldn't get on the scoresheet this time out, and West Ham eased into the Europa Conference League.
With two wins in Europe lifting some of the gloom, and important minutes under the belts of Scamacca, Cornet, Ogbonna and others, hopefully some positivity - and a signing or two - will lift the place once more and bring the first points of the Premier League season against Aston Villa at the weekend.
David Moyes 8/10: Went in with a good team, but is probably enjoying having these games to get his new signings settled and playing. Changes were the right calls, even using it to give Oko-flex some time with the first team.
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Player RatingsAlphonse Areola
Tested more than he should have been, but did very well on the occasions he was needed. A positive sign for his concentration and agility.
Got more confident as the game went on and started to trust that he could beat his man. Delivered some lovely crosses, his passing from the back was excellent, and it showed the progress in areas of his game that he needs this season.
Neat passing, good deliveries, defended well. The booking was pretty harsh, he's not really done anything wrong and Said was the aggressor. For a player many lament, he's started the season well.
A couple of shaky moments, but otherwise a calm display. Hits his passes with a lovely weight on them. Threatened goal on crosses.
It's possible that going up against someone like Grot is the perfect way for him to prove his fitness. He's got a bit of physicality and a turn of pace, and Ogbonna did fine with him.
There seemed to be more intensity in his game, from his runs forward to his passes, that were snapped in at people's toes. Good to see.
An assist and a goal for Tommy, who has had his share of criticism lately, so it's great to see him play well and deliver.
He's just the perfect player for these type of opponents. When you need someone to absolutely show he's off a better standard, Benrahma's natural game is to expose those weaknesses and relentlessly beat his man. As Viborg tired, Benrahma just toyed with them Great finish, should have had an assist later.
He's not just missed a sitter, he's also missed good passing opportunities a couple times on attacks. But, crucially, gets forward and close to the striker, works back and set up a goal with a lovely and instinctive bit of football.
Quieter off the left, but it was brilliant by him down the left for the first goal, even if it came after his cross was cleared. Passed well, worked hard.
There is a bit of class about him when he drops in and gets on the ball. Some lovely long passes, little neat lay-offs and another good "striker's goal".
(Replaced Scamacca 68) In a quiet appearance, he managed to elbow a defender in the face and blast a shot miles over on the edge of the box.
(Replaced Soucek 68) Looked both eager and controlled, in that he went in determined when the ball was in his zone, but didn't chase the game.
(Replaced Benrahma 68) Just played very simple passes and kept it ticking over.
Cresswell 82) Game had pretty much died as Kurt got on to sharpen his fitness.
(Replaced Lanzini 82) As above, but with the coolest name you can have.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play. Other unused subs: Jarrod Bowen, Divin Mubama
Did not play. Other unused subs: Jarrod Bowen, Divin Mubama
Match FactsWest Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Ben Johnson, Aaron Cresswell, Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Manuel Lanzini, Tomas Soucek, Said Benrahma, Maxwel Cornet, Pablo Fornals, Gianluca Scamacca.
Goals: Gianluca Scamacca 23 Said Benrahma 51 Tomas Soucek 63 .
Booked: Aaron Cresswell 63 .
Sent off: None.
Viborg FF: Lund, Gaaei, Burgy, Zaletel, S?,rensen, Leemans (S?,ndergaard 78), Gr?,nning, Bonde (Zamburek 60), Lonwijk (Mortimer 60), Grot (Jatta 60), Said (Berger 78).
Subs not used: Killerich, Lauritsen, Thorsen.
Booked: Said (63).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Harald Lechner.
Man of the Match: Tomas Soucek.