David Moyes hailed summer signing Mohammed Kudus for inspiring West Ham to their comeback victory and sparing Angelo Ogbonna’s blushes.
Kudus, the Ghana winger signed from Ajax for £38million, marked his first start by scoring the second goal four minutes after forcing the equaliser, Petar Stanic having capitalised on Ogbonna’s howler to give Serbian outfit TSC a shock lead.
Tomas Soucek headed in a late third to ensure West Ham got off to a winning start in Europa League Group A having qualified as Europa Conference League winners.
“Kudus started the game really well but faded like the team did but he came up with important goals,” said West Ham manager David Moyes. “I couldn’t see where the goals were coming from up to that point.”
West Ham failed to convert a series of first-half chances, starting with a James Ward-Prowse free-kick that was deflected on to the roof of the net.TSC goalkeeper Nikola Simic blocked Thilo Kehler’s low drive with his legs, Kudus saw an effort deflected wide and Lucas Paqueta was inches away from converting Pablo Fornals’s downward header from a corner.
Paqueta forced Simic into another save before Kudus headed over from close range but the visitors, cheered on by a knot of 150 fans, almost stole an opener just before half-time when Nemanja Stojic headed against the bar from a corner. Two minutes into the second period the Serbian SuperLiga leaders, who are bankrolled by the government of nearby Hungary, did indeed take the lead.
Stanic embarrassed Ogbonna by robbing him on the halfway line and sprinted clear to slot past Lukasz Fabianski. “It was our own doing,” Moyes admitted. “We made a big mistake in the game but maybe it helped – it made us more determined.”
The home fans chanted for Michail Antonio and got their wish after the hour mark when he replaced Fornals but it was Kudus who turned the tie. First he forced Nemanja Petrovic to knock Emerson’s ball to the back post over the line in the 66th minute. Four minutes later he nodded his side ahead from a corner, diverting the ball deftly into the side-netting. Sub Soucek made sure of victory with a near-post header.
“We are disappointed and a little bit angry,” said TSC coach Zarko Lazetic. “We are sorry because we had the opportunity to achieve a better result.”
10:11 PM BST
Mohammed Kudus speaks
We didn’t have control [at the start of the second half] but we did what the coach told us and the winning mentality of the players [came through]. We knew the final quality had to be better second half. We knew what we were doing so if we were down or up we knew how to play. The result came after. I’m here to help the team. I hust did my best for the team and hopefully [we get] the three points.
They have made me feel like family already. The most important thing is the team. We focus on that and we will build on it.
09:58 PM BST
Full time: West Ham 3 TSC 1
West Ham fight back from their shock at conceding a goal after an Angelo Ogbonna mistake to seize the game by virtue of Said Benrahma’s raids and deliveries from the left and James Ward-Prowse’s lethal crosses from set-pieces.
09:56 PM BST
90+2 min: West Ham 3 TSC 1
TSC have given their all but look exhausted now. West Ham trying to pick them off but they’re dropping with cramp like flies.
09:51 PM BST
90 min: West Ham 3 TSC 1
Cornet ⇢ Paqueta.
Jovicic is down with cramp.
09:50 PM BST
88 min: West Ham 3 TSC 1
Ward-Prowse’s corner is typically menacing and almost put in at the far post but is pumped wide.
09:49 PM BST
86 min: West Ham 3 TSC 1
Double chance for West Ham when Soucek cuts across the D to thread a shot through the legs with his left. Simic dives low to push it to his right. Antonio pounces on it, opens his body to try to bend a right-foot in at the far post but Antonic contorts himself brilliantly to hack it away and behind, a yard or so in front of the line.
09:45 PM BST
West Ham 3 TSC 1 (Soucek) He made the run that into Mavropanos’s terrain before he came in, coming back off the post to squeeze in front of the front-post sentry and bullet it in. A second assist for Ward-Prowse.
09:43 PM BST
82 min: West Ham 2 TSC 1
Benrahma opens his stride and hares up the left to earn another corner.
09:43 PM BST
80 min: West Ham 2 TSC 1
Triple TSC substitution: Cirkovic, Rakonjac and Vulic come one for, I think. Dakovac, Cvetkovic and Dordevic.
09:41 PM BST
77 min: West Ham 2 TSC 1
Soucek ⇢ Ings.
Mavropanos slides in twice to stop an attack up the inside left and sparks a counter with four men in the break. Antonio’s heavy touch slows then down when picked out by Paqueta’s perfect pass and it means when he does manage to hook it back across the box, the chance has diminished in threat by two-thirds at least, Paqueta lashing it over and berating Antonio for the late return.
09:38 PM BST
74 min: West Ham 2 TSC 1
That’s how you change a game. Benrahma sprang into life when they were behind like a greyhound with English mustard up its tuchas, setting up the first and earning the corner from which they took the lead.
09:32 PM BST
West Ham 2 TSC 1 (Kudus) Took the headed chance well, planting his feet but twisting his neck to steer Ward-Prowse’s venomous, spinning corner powerfully in from six yards.
09:28 PM BST
West Ham 1 TSC 1 (Petrovic og) Excellent from Benrahma who was sent down the left by Ings. He shaped to cross with his left, chopped back on to his right and whipped a cross to the back post. Kudus went to flick it in, coming round the back so Petrovic had to do something and tried to flick it away from a yard out but ended up slicing it into his own net.
09:26 PM BST
64 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
Thirty seconds after that clean catch, Simic makes a complete Horlicks of a long ball over the top that was looking for Kudus. The keeper runs to the left of the box to catch, misjudges the flight and drops it but the ball bounces favourably behind Kudus who would otherwise have been clean through. Simic flops on to it, grateful for the rub of the green.
09:24 PM BST
61 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
Second West Ham change: Antonio ⇢ Fornals. The substitute jogs straight into the box looking to get on the end of a Ward-Prowse free-kick from the right that ultimately arcs down Simic’s throat.
09:21 PM BST
59 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
West Ham corner on the right headed clear. A minute earlier his corner on the left was devilishly whipped but kept out at the near post as Mavropanos made that clever run again.
09:20 PM BST
57 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
Misunderstanding between Paqueta and Kudus lets TSC pile on teh counter again but this time West Ham see it off. Moyes is telling Antonio to get stripped.
09:17 PM BST
54 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
Ogbonna asks for a penalty when diving to try to reach Ward-Prowse’s corner, claiming a shove in the back. The referee isn’t buying it and nor is VAR.
09:15 PM BST
52 min: West Ham 0 TSC 1
If you’re not a West Ham fan you might find this act of larceny hilarious, or act of self-sabotage, such was their dominance. And they have been thoroughly rattled by conceding.
09:09 PM BST
West Ham 0 TSC 1 (Stanic) Smash and grab. Assist from Ogbonna when the ball was played back to him on halfway after another probing spell proved fruitless. He turned back towards goal but tried then to spin away and Stanic blindsided him, toed the ball away and then was gone as the veteran struggled to chase. Stanic took it 30 yards to the edge of the box entirely on his own, waited for Fabianski to flinch and then wrapped his instep round a right-foot finish from 18 yards.
09:08 PM BST
46 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Half-time change: Emerson ⇢ Cresswell.
West Ham kick-off, overloading with five on the right and pumping it high up that flank. But they can’t exploit their numerical superiority.
08:52 PM BST
Half-time: West Ham 0 TSC 0
West Ham had all the possession and momentum for 40 minutes, racking up hundreds of passes and threatening from every Ward-Prowse dead ball and from open play through Paqueta, Ings and Kudus. But they have not been able to penetrate the very well-drilled banks of four and five and TSC gave them a scare on the break late on. In truth West ham should be ahead by a couple of goals but they lack the finishing touch.
08:49 PM BST
45+2 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Ogbonna uses his strength to hold off Jovanovic, careful not to pass to Cresswell who cannot continue much longer, and buys a goal-kick by firing the ball into the TSC centre-forward’s shins.
08:48 PM BST
45 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
The corner flashes through the six-yard box menacing. All it needs is a toe but there’s no white shirt close enough and Cresswell knocks it behind for another.
Cresswell is limping badly.
08:46 PM BST
42 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Now Ogbonna is penalised for a clumsy challenge and from the free-kick Cvetkovic burns past Cresswell to cross. Ogbonna hacks it behind.
08:43 PM BST
40 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Kehrer is booked for overrunning the ball when he was pelting forward and then stepping on to Petrovic’s metatarsals. Little wonder he winces in pain as he takes his time to get back up.
08:41 PM BST
38 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Rare break from TSC earns them a corner. Rare as in unique. But , having called up the cavalry, they send it too long and West Ham clear.
08:37 PM BST
36 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
This one is sent deep, having twice targeted Mavropanos earlier. Ogbonna rises to meet it but heads it straight back whence it came.
08:36 PM BST
35 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Kudus RSVPs an invitation to shoot and smacks it from 20 yards into a packed box, earning another corner for JW-P.
08:35 PM BST
33 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Kuveljic is booked, I think, for his part in some re-start timewasting and Radin is trying to run off an injury.
08:34 PM BST
30 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
The first decent spell of probing from TSC is held 30 yards from goal and then Paqueta wins it back. He sends Cresswell and Benrahma down the left and continues his run to receive a return 20 yards out, hitting a first-time shot that Simic shovels away to the left. Kehrer takes the clearance and centres. Kudus leaps to meet it at the back stick and heads over.
08:30 PM BST
28 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Ward-Prowse delivers again and Mavropanos makes another dangerous near-post run, Only the close attention of his marker and an accidental bang on the head before he met the ball thwarted his hopes of giving West Ham the lead.
08:28 PM BST
25 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
West Ham’s pass count tops 200 after the corner which TSC usher away to their right. West Ham recycle it to the other wing and Ward-Prowse gives it to Kudus who needs no invitation to shoot, thumping it from 20 yards into Dordevic and it loops up and over for a corner.
08:26 PM BST
23 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Kudusm Kehrer and Fornals combine down the right and Antonic blocks the Spain forward’s cross with his chest. Corner. Ward-Prowse trots over.
08:24 PM BST
20 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Kudus was magnificent for Ajax in 2021-22 and is a hell of a coup for West Ham. He loves to run at defenders and is giving Antonic kittens every time he latches on to a pass and drives into the box.
08:20 PM BST
18 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Smart save from Simic when Kehrer steals in from the right and pounce on a deflected cross from the left. He shifts the ball on to his left and shoots through a thicket of legs, nutmegging two defenders. Simic gets down swiftly to make the save.
08:18 PM BST
15 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Ings lets fly and from the left of the 18-yard line after a neat one-two with Benrahma. The wall-pass allows him to open his body and lump a right-foot shot that Simic batters away. Fornals gobbles up the clearance but his shot, too, is blocked.
08:14 PM BST
13 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Paqueta snaps into a tackle on Jovanovic and wins the ball back on halfway, starting a raid up the right through Fornals. Petrovic makes the tackle at the cost of a corner.
08:12 PM BST
11 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
TSC are sitting so deep, West ham could take off a centre-half if this continues.
08:11 PM BST
9 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Cresswell gives the ball away on halfway, Dakovac pounces and runs towards the box before slipping a pass tp Jovanovic. Ogbonna forces him wider down the right and blocks the effort when it eventually comes.
08:08 PM BST
7 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Ward-Prowse, Mr Special Teams, whips in the corner and Mavropanos, running across the keeper at the near post, only just fails to apply the eyebrows that would have knocked it in. Simic slaps it away to the edge of the box and Benrahma shoots, dragging it to the leftv of the area and MAvropanos, again, just misses out in deflecting it back towards goal from a couple of yards out.
08:06 PM BST
5 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Ward-Prowse bends the free-kick but the wall does it job even if the header loops up and sits on the top of the net, threatening to dip under momentarily. Corner.
08:05 PM BST
3 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
Any Paul Weller fans will be delighted by the shorthand designation of TSC. Keeps on burning. Kudus cuts in off the right wing to control a driven diagonal and is brought down as he scampers infield. Up steps James Ward-Prowse to claim the free-kick, 22 yards out slightly right of centre.
08:03 PM BST
1 min: West Ham 0 TSC 0
After a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the Morocco earthquake and Libya’s floods, the match kicks off and Paqueta is penalised for a high kick that brushes Radin’s chest and the right winger hits the decks like a bag of spanners, yelling at the top of his voice.
08:01 PM BST
Right, here we go
TSC are on white, West Ham in claret and blue.
07:56 PM BST
Not long to go...
07:45 PM BST
Soucek on tonight's opponents
We have watched them in our clips and we have prepared a lot for this game. We know how they’ve been playing in their games and what shape they like. We’ve looked at individual players too, so we’ve prepared very well.
We want to be ready for every game because we want to be as successful as possible. The last two days, we’ve watched a lot of FK TSC in order to be ready.
We want to show our style and what we can do. We know they are top of their league and they have earned the right to be in this group but I believe we will show our quality.
07:36 PM BST
A magical night for West Ham
Last time out in Europe, we won the Europa Conference League 🏆 pic.twitter.com/KInfKiZMBT
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 21, 2023
07:27 PM BST
A full debut for West Ham's big summer signing
07:11 PM BST
Backa Topola team news
Starting XI: Simic, Cvetkovic, Antonic, Djordjevic, Petrovic, Radin, Djakovac, Stojic, Kuveljic, Peter Stanic, Jovanovic.
Subs: Milovanovic, Mirchevski, Ilic, Jorgic, Milos Pantovic, Cirkovic, Krstic, Vlalukin, Vulic, Rakonjac, Sos.
07:10 PM BST
West Ham team news
Your Europa League Hammers ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/8RqvFWORNH
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 21, 2023
07:00 PM BST
West Ham vs Backa Topola
Hello and welcome to coverage of West Ham’s clash with Serbian side Backa Topola at the London Stadium.
The last time West Ham played in Europe they won the Europa Conference League, beating Fiorentina 2-1 on a memorable June night in Prague.
Jarrod Bowen’s last-minute winner sparked joyous scenes on the pitch with manager David Moyes celebrating alongside his father, David senior, who attended all their European fixtures over the past two years.
And Moyes admits he is still basking in the glow of last season’s triumph, having too often been a “miserable b----r” after matches.
“I’ve got to say there’s an inner glow about me because I know getting that victory means so much,” Moyes said.
“I’m pleased to carry that with me now. I hope we can do it again, I really do, because of the magic feeling when it happened, the aftermath, what it meant to so many people in east London and to West Ham supporters in particular.
“To be fortunate enough to win a European trophy is not something you get to do every day. Last year was magical.
“To be able to have my family there... they’ve probably been to hundreds and hundreds of games where I’ve been a miserable b----r, not wanting to go for a drink or for dinner.
“They are the lows and then you get the highs of a win and to be able to have the family there and to be part of it was magnificent.”
Declan Rice, the captain who lifted the trophy, has since moved on to Arsenal but Moyes feels that if anything they are stronger having invested the £105million received for the England midfielder in Edson Alvarez, James Ward-Prowse and Mohammed Kudus.
“I think we’ve tried to build a stronger whole group,” he added. “The competition is good in the squad. We want to keep that strong and the players are in a confident frame of mind, which comes from victories and playing well.”