- by Staff Writer
- Friday, 26th November 2021
Mark Noble marked his 553rd appearance for West Ham with his first goal for the club in nearly two years.You have to go all the way back to January 2020 for the club captain's last goal in a competitive fixture not including penalty shootouts, that being a spot kick in a defeat at Leicester in January of that year.
However he was on the scoresheet again on Thursday night - notching the 61st goal of his career - as the Hammers breezed past a lacklustre Rapid Vienna in Austria on the latest leg of West Ham's Europa League tour.
And the 34-year-old, who is nearly halfway through his final season as a first team pro at the club admitted he was delighted to find the net once again.
“Coming to play in Europe in my last year, it was fantastic [to score]," he told West Ham's website. "With the way we’re playing in the Premier League at the minute, to come first in the group stages of this competition is fantastic.
“We’ve got one more [Europa League Group H] game in a couple of weeks and then we don’t play [in Europe] again until March, so that’s great for us."
However the skipper is under no illusions that the challenge that lies ahead will prove to be a much sterner test than that offered by Rapid last night and Genk and Dinamo Zagreb in recent weeks.
“There are some top, top teams in this competition," he mused. "Yes, we’ve come first in our group, a tough group, but I still think that there’s a lot of work to do. The further you go into the competition, the better the teams you get, so we’ve got a long way to go until we get into the next round.
“We’ve a lot of games to play before then, so hopefully we can keep pushing on in the Premier League. We’ve got a tough Carabao Cup quarter-final against Tottenham too. We just need to keep our players fit, keep playing well, and deal with the last 16 when it comes.”
And on the win itself - a victory that secured top spot in Group H - Noble maintained that it could - and probably should - have been even more comprehensive. “I think we probably could have scored two or three more if we were clinical,” he said.
“Our finishing probably wasn’t as good as it should have been but I think we played well enough to win the game. We’d had two or three chances which we didn’t quite finish. We were a bit sloppy at times, but we have had a lot of travelling.
“Yarmo got a great header with a really good ball from Niki [Vlasic] and then there was a penalty from myself. It made it more comfortable for us going in at half-time. The manager changed the team quite a bit and I thought the boys who came in did great.
"We got the three points we wanted to go through top."
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