West Ham boss David Moyes has sent out a warning to the club’s Europa League rivals after they eased into the round of 16.
The Irons beat Austrian side Rapid Vienna 2-0 away from home to continue their winning run in Group H. They have finished top with a game to spare after another dominant performance.
Moyes’ side started well and could have gone ahead in the sixth minute, but Jarrod Bowen could not convert from an Arthur Masuaku cross.
They took the lead shortly before half-time as Andriy Yarmolenko headed in from close range. The Ukraine skipper was then clipped in the box in first-half injury time, allowing Mark Noble to net from the penalty spot.
West Ham had more chances in the second half but couldn’t add to their 11 goals in the competition. The victory means they miss the play-off round, which will see Champions League clubs drop down after being knocked out in the group stage.
During a post-match interview with BT Sport, Moyes said: “A really good, professional job, not just tonight but how well we’ve done in the group so far. Great credit to the whole squad of players because we’ve used them all.”
When asked about the two goals, Moyes went on to send a stark warning to the other teams in the competition – that West Ham are a threat, even if they’re not playing at their best. “We should have been in front before we did, we probably scored when we weren’t at our best. But there was no doubt that we deserved to be winning the game. We’ll play better, but the win is a good sign when we don’t think we played that well.
“The players who have come in have performed really, really well. When we started in the tournament, I was a bit unsure about how we’d be because it was all relatively new to all the players. They’ve done such a good job, and the clean sheets have helped greatly.”
Key players such as Michail Antonio, Declan Rice and Lukasz Fabianski were rested in Vienna. On his squad depth, the manager added: “We’ve tried to do it in all the games this season in the competition. We want to keep everybody involved because we know we’re going to need that this season.
“At times it’s been a little bit risky, but overall the players who have come in have done really well and they’ll keep their places for the European games.”
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West Ham could have scored more – Noble Club captain Noble featured in a separate post-match interview. The midfielder said: “We probably could have scored two or three more if we were clinical. Our finishing wasn’t as good as it should have been tonight but we played well enough to win the game.
“The manager changed the team quick a bit, I thought the boys who came in have done great. It’s the three points we wanted to go through and top [the group].”
On the timing of the goals, just before the break, he continued: “[It was] very important timing. We had two or three chances before, but it made it pretty comfortable going in two nil up at half-time. They’re a good side, we learnt that at the London Stadium. We knew they weren’t going to stop fighting and they play good football, but we were just too strong in the end.”
Noble added: “Coming to play in Europe in my last season as a player is fantastic. The way we’re playing in the Premier League and finishing first in the group in this competition is fantastic. We have one more group game and then we don’t play til March so that’s great for us, because we’ve got so many games to come.”
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