Conference League
West Ham United 2-1 Anderlecht 

Thursday, 13th October 2022
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham confirmed their passage through the Europa Conference League group stages this evening, a 2-1 win at home to Anderlecht enough to maintain their 100% record.

First half goals from Benrahma and Bowen gave The Hammers a deserved and comfortable lead, only for a late penalty put away by Esposito to cause some late panic.

Embed from Getty Images

David Moyes sent out a strong team full of first-teamers, knowing that a win would take them through to the next round, and only a further point is needed to secure top spot.

There were eight changes to the team that beat Fulham on the weekend, with only Bowen, Cresswell and Paqueta remaining. The Brazilian played an interesting role, seemingly heading the three-man attack in a false nine position, although he drifted across spots with Benrahma often.

It allowed a fluid and exciting attacking trio, with Benrahma looking enthused to play alongside the Brazilian.

With a spring in his step, Benrahma was given responsibility on a freekick after his dancing feet caused a foul on the edge of the box. Cresswell had raised one over the bar beforehand, but with the ball a little closer to goal, the more subtle touch of Benrahma was much more suitable.

And so it proved, the Algerian lifting it perfectly up and over the wall and then down, dropping into the bottom corner and way out of the goalkeeper's reach. It was perfectly placed, and exactly the kind of sumptuous strike that West Ham fans have felt him capable of since he arrived at the club.

Any Benrahma goal always lifts the confidence of one of our most exciting players, however frustrating he might be. When that confidence flows, you can see it in his game, and it was only more encouraged by the quick touch and move football Paqueta helps to bring. Those high quality players do seem to understand the wavelength Benrahma is on, and the flashes will be enough to get many purring across the internet.

Embed from Getty Images

The football from West Ham was good, the players seemed settled in their 3-4-3 shape, although that was helped by lacklustre opponents. When the draw was made, Anderlecht looked the side to fear, one with recent pedigree. But they are a long way off the quality required to threaten even a second-string West Ham and looked rudderless, at times.

It was all going West Ham's way, and they could have had more had runners watched the offside line better.

Soon Ogbonna was forced off injured, replaced by Dawson, and then West Ham quickly made it 2-0.

This was a lovely goal, made by excellent running down the left from Emerson. Powerful, and with pace, he drove deep down to the left of the area and then cut the ball back to Bowen waiting on the edge.

The ball was firm and just a little off the ground, but Bowen killed it with his first touch, moved it out of his feet and then lashed the ball into the top corner from just inside the box. No better a goal would befit the term lashed, it was just the exact picture of it.

It gave Bowen his sixth European goal for West Ham, putting him equal in the our European scoring charts with Johnny Byrne and David Cross. Lancashire can only hope his children match the Cross family's work at the cricket club.

Embed from Getty Images

The half passed without a glitch for The Hammers from there, and it should have been 3-0 and game over before the break.

Cresswell, revitalised this season, bombed forward on the underlap and got onto a good pass after some nice football on the flank. He cut his pass back to Bowen on the six-yard line, but the forward let one through the gate, a swing and a miss as the ball rolled on and the forward's foot connected only with air.

With things looking rosy, Fornals was brought on at half time to replace the impressive Paqueta, whose performances are becoming more authoritative with each passing game.

The second half felt like a game decided in the first, and West Ham's intensity dropped. There were chances, but no real feeling that West Ham needed to do more, and nor the feeling that they would anyway.

There were moments, Coufal delivering a beautiful cross on the volley only for Emerson to finish weakly one minute, Lanzini and Benrahma combining to set up Fornals for a good chance - blocked by the defender, but not struck at all well by the Spaniard - the next.

But the sting was gone, and it was not helped when the manager starting making changes. Not that those changes were wrong, but it just seemed to further signal that the game was won, even as Rice and Scamacca were brought on for Cresswell and Bowen. The captain dropped into Cresswell left-sided centre back role, although an injury to Dawson forced Dec into the middle, Emerson dropping into the wide centre back role and Fornals going to wing back.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham's best chance of the half came from Fornals in that role, cutting inside and curling a lovely cross to the far post, which Scamacca got to, but not in a comfortable position to force the shot at goal. He should have done better.

With the game petering out, suddenly Anderlecht won a penalty. The Belgians really hadn't threatened at all, but a dropping ball in the area was poked at by Johnson, and even though he poked the ball away, his studs then collided with the swinging leg taking a shot on goal.

The referee blew, and with no VAR, the penalty was always going to stand. Esposito tucked the ball into the bottom corner and then six minutes went up on the board.

But Anderlecht had nothing, and with Silkeborg on form, they now have a fight on their hands to make second-place and a playoff with one of the teams eliminated from the Europa League.

West Ham need a single point to confirm first place, and even then, Silkeborg will have to beat both The Hammers and Anderlecht. The October revival rolls on.

Embed from Getty Images

Manager's Rating

David Moyes 7/10
Hard to say whether we needed the first teamers that came on, but then we let the game slip and could have had a really nasty last six minutes, if Anderlecht were better. So, it's hard to argue that maybe they were needed, but would have been nice to see a mix of youngsters with the stars.

* Want to submit your match reports to More details here ...

 Click to view all West Ham United vs Anderlecht match reports

 Click to view all match reports by Chris Wilkerson

Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
One easy save, one save that was likely going wide. Untroubled, basically.

Vladimir Coufal
An easy game for Vlad, who was never really forced onto the back foot and was a solid presence on the right. Comfortable.

Aaron Cresswell
For whatever reason, he's found an extra yard for bursts down the line and it has made him a much better left back.

Ben Johnson
Looked really good until the late error. He did win the ball, but his studs were up, and he didn't need to make the challenge, regardless.

Angelo Ogbonna
Barely did anything until he was down and injured.

Emerson Palmieri
Threatened on the ball with his speed and movement, got a good assist and looked confident.

Flynn Downes
Another good performance and one with the bite and snap with his defending that we have already come to expect. Looks very much the player that you might get were Nobes and Rice to run into each other at 200mph (use your imaginations, people).

Manuel Lanzini
One or two good passes, but mainly safe and secure. Which was probably required, just to keep control and stop Anderlecht growing into the game.

Jarrod Bowen
Looks dangerous, looks confident, and took his goal excellently. Some of the better stuff in the first half came when he got the ball down and decided to run at Anderlecht. Missed a sitter, but is back as a goalscoring threat.

Said Benrahma
He wasn't as smooth as silk, there were still typical Benrahma moments where the simple seemed to suddenly be too much, but the freekick was lovely, he combined well with Paqueta and scared Anderlecht.

Lucas Paqueta
Quietly brilliant. A joy to watch.


Craig Dawson
(Replaced Ogbonna 22) Did his job comfortably and calmly until he injured himself smashing into Downes in the air.

Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Paqueta 46) Fit into the team and how they were playing perfectly, and was useful to fit into different roles when the team needed it.

Declan Rice
(Replaced Cresswell 63) Slotted into defence quietly and comfortably.

Gianluca Scamacca
(Replaced Bowen 63) Could have done better with Fornals' cross and just didn't fit into the game West Ham had been playing before he came on.

Tomas Soucek
(Replaced Dawson 75) Barely noted he was on.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Kristian Hegyi
Did not play.

Freddie Potts
Did not play. Other unused subs: Keenan Forson, Conor Coventry

Ollie Scarles
Did not play. Other unused subs: Keenan Forson, Conor Coventry

Match Facts

West Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Ben Johnson, Angelo Ogbonna, Emerson Palmieri, Flynn Downes, Manuel Lanzini, Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma, Lucas Paqueta.

Goals: Said Benrahma 14 Jarrod Bowen 30                .

Booked: Lucas Paqueta 36 Flynn Downes 59 Ben Johnson 88      .

Sent off: None.

Anderlecht: Van Crombrugge, Debast, Delcroix (Hoedt 79), N’Diaye, Murillo, Arnstad, Diawara (Sadiki 59), Verschaeren (Vertonghen 67), Amuzu (Stroeykens 66), Esposito, Silva (Stassin 79).

Subs not used: Verbruggen, Coosemans, Raman, Ishaq, Ait El Hadj, Sardella, Leoni.

Goals: Esposito (pen 89).

Booked: Arnstad (8).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Willy Delajod.

Attendance: 40,767.

Man of the Match: Said Benrahma.