Europa League
West Ham United 1-0 Olympiacos 

Thursday, 9th November 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham got themselves back on track in the Europa League this Thursday evening, taking a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Olympiacos at the London Stadium.

With only one win from their last six games, The Hammers came into the game under pressure, but came away with a win that keeps them top of Group A with two games to play.

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The victory keeps them level on points with Freiburg, who West Ham face in the last game of the group stages. The win in Germany earlier in the competition means Moyes's side stay above them on head-to-head standings.

The manager picked a strong side, with only really Fabianski and Benrahma included who might not have been first choice. With Zouma still injured, Mavropanos remained at the heart of defence, whilst Kudus stayed on the right wing as Jarrod Bowen played up top in place of Michail Antonio.

There was an effort from distance inside the first two minutes from Benrahma that looked to set a tone, but whilst West Ham controlled much of the ball early on, they definitely failed to find a way to dominate Olympiacos in any meaningful way.

After the weekend's 4-4-2, the team looked to be in more of a 4-2-3-1, with Paqueta dropping in at times to make that a three in the middle, and Alvarez getting back to dropping in between the centre backs to take the ball. It worked much better in a game like this, where use of the ball was going to be more important than a combative midfield display, and Ward-Prowse played well.

Benrahma was busy in the first half, the first real threatening effort in the game coming from the Algerian after Paqueta found him on the left corner of the box. Benrahma controlled sharply and kept it close to him before trying to clip a curler over and around the goalkeeper, but it was well saved by Paschalakis, who tipped the ball around the post.

The resultant corner was curled away from goal and met by Aguerd under only mild pressure, but his header was held well by the goalkeeper. It was one of three first-half James Ward-Prowse corners that Aguerd headed goalwards, all of which could have been finished better.

Soon, Alvarez was booked for a robust challenge, taking the ball first and then wiping out his opponent, before Kudus was booked for dissent after a few decisions went against the Ghanaian in quick succession.

It was a reasonably level game, West Ham with the better of things, but this was no game in which the home side were dominating a defensive side. The chances The Hammers had were low value, Benrahma forcing a good save low to Paschalakis's right from just inside the box as Paqueta again found the winger in a good position.

Olympiacos had managed to keep West Ham from creating any clear chances, and having won the reverse fixture two weeks earlier, they could have taken the lead before half-time. A ball into the left channel saw Ortega fly forward from left back, sprinting from a deeper position to burst down the line untracked.

Coufal was lost a long way behind him, and the full back got to the ball down the side of the box and cut the ball back to Podence making his way just into the area. Unfortunately for him, the ball was bounced at him, and sat up awkwardly for him as he ran forward. The Wolves-loanee couldn't get over the ball, slicing wide.

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The sides went in 0-0 at half-time, with neither making changes as they came out for the second 45.

West Ham fans will not be surprised that their side came out sluggishly from the break. Their league form this season has been underpinned by weakness after half-time, conceding seven goals during the first 20 minutes of second half games in the league this season.

Olympiacos got a grip of the game for a 15-minute period here. They failed to really threaten, but they put the home side under a pressure they hadn't faced in the first half.

It was after those 15 minutes that West Ham showed life, a lovely drive down the right from Bowen ending with the forward cutting it back to the edge of the box, only for Ward-Prowse to take the safer choice, getting over it and getting solid connection with a side foot effort. It bounced off the turf, but was comfortably saved.

It was interesting to see the manager move Kudus central and Bowen out wide. Kudus faded after a good first half, similarly to Brentford, and there will be questions as to whether he's quite up to speed with what is expected in this team.

Benrahma had another chance, this time after good work by Coufal to drill a ball into the box. It fell to the far side of the box to the Algerian, and he kept his head down, moved into a little space and shot weakly at goal. Had he looked up, he may have seen Paqueta waiting in a great position on the edge of the box, and he should have been found.

The Greek side tried to threaten on the counter, but Alvarez and Ward-Prowse were aware and smart with their positioning. The English midfielder did brilliantly to step in and put a stop to one very promising counter-attack, part of his rather understated and quietly strong performance.

If it was understated at that point, he soon made his big impact, the bow on top of his performance.

After Paqueta drifted to the right wing, he passed inside to Bowen. He quickly laid it back to Ward-Prowse, 30 yards or so from goal. The midfielder looked up and chose to clip a pass just over the defence, who had pushed up out of the penalty area.

Well, not all of them. Unfortunately for the Greek side, the left back stayed deep, maybe as much as five yards deeper than the rest of his defence, and it cost his side a goal.

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Paqueta looked like he had made his run too early, and the flag went up, but the Brazilian took his chance beautifully, volleying the dropping ball a little behind him, smashing it past Paschalakis and into the back of the net.

The celebrations quickly ended as the flag went up, and a lot of viewers will have thought it looked offside on first viewing. But, the benefits of VAR were on show here, the Brazilian actually timing his run perfectly, exploiting Ortega's error and getting in behind the defence.

With 15 minutes to go, West Ham had a crucial lead.

The manager looked to use his bench to inject the team with more energy to see out their lead. Soucek replaced Alvarez, then a few minutes later we got a cameo from Cornet.

Mavropanos could have ended things, Ward-Prowse curling a lovely freekick behind the defence from the right-hand side, but the Greek defender stooped down low and then made a mess of his header from 10 yards out.

A minute later, he and his side were so nearly punished. An Olympiacos corner to the near post was flicked on by Porozo, and it arrowed to the far post, where there seemed to be nobody in claret and blue.

But there was an Olympiacos man, Camara standing just wide of the post, but the defender could only smack a header into the woodwork from a few yards out, the ball bouncing to safety. The Hammers had escaped.

There was an even shorter cameo for Mubama, and a Rodinei shot blasted high and wide once in the box, but the final whistle soon came. 1-0 is job done, and a ninth consecutive home win in European football keeps West Ham top.

Up next are TSC Backa Topola, sitting on a single point and coming off the back of a 5-0 battering by Freiburg. West Ham should expect to win that one, and it's all setting up for a final match showdown with the German team for top spot, which Moyes will be desperate for, to avoid the tricky tie of a Champions League drop-out, as well as the freer schedule.

The strong side was a positive step by the manager, but he has to hope that the team, the majority of which will start against Forest at the weekend, can be physically fresh enough to arrest the slide in the league.

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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 8/10: Held off on the subs in a necessary way, it wasn't quite the situation to risk changes and his side were doing well, if lacking a cutting edge. He was balancing a need to rest Antonio with the need for a goal, and Paqueta saved him the worry. Picked a strong team when he would have been forgiven for going a little weaker. Job done.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Not tested at any point.

Vladimir Coufal
Neither of the full backs was able to provide much quality from wide areas. Olympiacos's best chance in the first half came from the left back flying past Coufal.

Emerson Palmieri
Couldn't find any space to drive into or create much moving forward.

Konstantinos Mavropanos
Solid, if unspectacular, but built on what was mostly a good display against Brentford.

Nayef Aguerd
Much the same as Mavropanos, this was a game where the defence was rarely tested and stood up to it.

James Ward-Prowse
Probably the best player on the pitch. Some important defensive contributions, created chances from set pieces and then came up with a lovely pass to assist the goal.

Edson Alvarez
Just a touch rash on the tackle, which put him on the edge. Was a good performance otherwise, especially moving the ball forward. Added some direct passing in a game where his team was a little slow.

Said Benrahma
Whilst he could have done better with a couple chances, whether in execution or actually find the better pass, he was a threat and a spark that was lacking at times in others.

Mohammed Kudus
A bright start but soon began to look a bit isolated stuck on the wing and quickly faded in the second half.

Lucas Paqueta
A wonderful goal, created some good chances and battled well in midfield. Some of the histrionics could be cut out.

Jarrod Bowen
Worked hard, but it was one of those games where he didn't quite have enough to really test the backline himself. And that is the quandary, because Antonio will occupy defenders and force gaps when his team are not creating. Bowen is far less likely to.


Tomas Soucek
(Replaced Alvarez 80) A few challenges where he just looked short of the pace of the game.

Maxwel Cornet
(Replaced Benrahma 84) No comments.

Divin Mubama
(Replaced Kudus 89) No comments.

Alphonse Areola
Did not play.

Ben Johnson
Did not play.

Aaron Cresswell
Did not play.

Pablo Fornals
Did not play.

Michail Antonio
Did not play. Other unused subs: Joseph Anang, Angelo Ogbonna, Thilo Kehrer

Danny Ings
Did not play. Other unused subs: Joseph Anang, Angelo Ogbonna, Thilo Kehrer

Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Emerson Palmieri, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Nayef Aguerd, James Ward-Prowse, Edson Alvarez, Said Benrahma, Mohammed Kudus, Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen.

Goals: Lucas Paqueta 73                  .

Booked: Edson ALvarez 19 Mohammed Kudus 28 Jarrod Bowen 90      .

Sent off: None.

Olympiacos: Paschalakis, Rodinei, Porozo, Retsos, Ortega, Hezze (Pep Biel 89), Alexandropoulos (Scarpa 76), Camara, Podence, Jovetić (El Kaabi 56), Fortounis.

Subs not used: Tzolakis, Papadoudis, Iborra, El-Arabi, Quini, Masouras, Joāo Carvalho, Ntoi, Solbakken.

Goals: .

Booked: Podence (37), Porozo (83), Fortunis (90+2), Camara (90+4).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Matej Jug.

Attendance: 55,811.

Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse.