Mark Noble on the spot in West Ham’s win over Rapid Vienna to wrap up the group | European League
West Ham entered the Waltz in the last 16 European League With the end of the match after a 2-0 victory over Rapid Vienna, where the goals of the first half of Andrey Yarmolenko and Mark Noble took the lead in Group H in favor of coach David Moyes’s team.
It was an important victory for the Hammer as they now reach the knockout stage, avoiding a playoff in February against a team that withdrew from the Champions League. Moyes even managed to make eight changes to his squad, resting the likes of Declan Rice and Michelle Antonio, and still gets the job done comfortably.
“It’s done, yeah,” Moyes said. “We did a professional job tonight and throughout the group stage we did a good job.
“It’s a huge appreciation for the players for the way they did the job for a relatively new group in Europe. It’s something I haven’t had yet. I knew we could get the job done but I think we didn’t play tonight like we did, but we did enough to get the job done. Good that I’m not entirely happy with the way we played but we won relatively comfortably.”
With Vienna going into a new coronavirus lockdown, the match was played in an empty stadium. Rapid couldn’t summon their vociferous fans to raise them, and in the end West Ham had plenty of rows.
They almost got off to a perfect start when Arthur Maswako sent a low cross into the box and Jarrod Bowen slithered wide after five minutes. Nikola Vlasic and Yarmolenko also narrowly shot a bright slot from the visitors.
The only moment of light warning came when Kelvin Arrase moved into the firing position, although reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola saved his effort en route to a fifth clean sheet in six games.
West Ham finally dominated six minutes before the end of the first half when Vlasic crossed from the left and left Yarmolenko with a simple header across goal. It was Hammers’ first goal since January for the Ukraine international, who has played just 52 minutes in the Premier League this season.
Yarmolenko then had a big hand in the second goal in stoppage time in the first half after he flipped Rapid captain Maximilian Hoffmann in the area and was brought down. Noble, the West Ham captain and the man who has been enjoying this European adventure in his eighteenth and final season at the club, has done nothing wrong from the position.
After the break Bowen’s quick feet in the area tricked three defenders, but his shot was straight at fast goalkeeper Paul Gartler. Gartler also denied Thomas Suchic before he was banned from following Bowen on the line.
Young striker Sonny Perkins came in as a substitute for his first appearance in the Hammers and almost scored a goal when he met Vladimir Koval’s cross with a superb header, but Gartler made an amazing save and West Ham had to settle for two goals.