A high-quality first-half double from Michail Antonio gave West Ham a 2-0 win at AEK Larnaca of their Europa Conference League last-16 first leg.
The ahead was straight again into the aspect after a hamstring damage, though did go off after showing to pressure his calf on the hour.
However, Antonio performed down any speak of one other spell out, telling BT Sport after the sport: “Hamstrings are good, my calf is sweet. I bought a few kicks at this time and I feel it simply tightened up. I feel I’ll be alright.”
The ahead actually made his mark, nodding residence fantastically within the thirty sixth minute earlier than a shocking, curling effort (45+1) doubled the Hammers’ lead – his first brace in 19 months. He may have made it the right hat-trick shortly after the break too, however noticed his left-footed shot clatter the put up.
However, he had already seen West Ham right into a commanding place forward of subsequent Thursday’s second leg on the London Stadium.
Larnaca, who’ve by no means reached the final 16 of any European competitors, actually examined West Ham at first and finish of the sport. They racked up 14 corners – West Ham had zero – however the Hammers’ high quality shone via at each ends of the pitch.
“Tonight I knew was going to be tough,” stated West Ham boss David Moyes. “I did not assume it will be a walkover and so they did make it tough and we held out and bought a clear sheet.
“It’s 9 video games we have received in Europe now this season and that takes some doing.
“Not many managers and gamers get to back-to-back European quarter-finals. We’ve nonetheless bought work to do to get there, but it surely’s not a nasty achievement.
“Then the subsequent half is attending to the semi-finals. We have to embrace it, take pleasure in it. There’s one thing totally different about Europe, even in a small stadium like tonight, it is an ideal thrill to be concerned at this degree.”
How West Ham beat Larnaca within the first leg
It took West Ham some time to get going as Larnaca started nicely. In the 18th minute, Marin Jakolis was fed down the left wing, dragging Thilo Kehrer and Nayef Aguerd in direction of him, however his cross was seen behind by Declan Rice. From the third successive nook of that spell, Nikos Englezou nodded simply over.
But as soon as West Ham discovered their high quality, it was solely a matter of time earlier than the objectives got here. In the thirty first minute, Manuel Lanzini despatched his shot simply large after some good work from Antonio and Pablo Fornals. Seconds later, Said Benrahma’s shot was saved on the close to put up by Kenan Piric.
But it was an damage stoppage for Englezou simply after that allowed David Moyes to speak to his squad – significantly Antonio – and the opening purpose got here from the striker simply 4 minutes later.
David Moyes made seven modifications from the weekend defeat to Brighton.
Only Alphonse Areola, Nayef Aguerd, Declan Rice and Said Benrahma stored their locations, with Michail Antonio and Thilo Kehrer each match sufficient to start out.
Angelo Ogbonna and Maxwell Cornet had been each match sufficient for a spot on the bench.
Benrahma did fantastically nicely to depart two Larnaca defenders in his wake as he dropped a shoulder, along with his floated cross nodded residence emphatically by an unmarked Antonio.
In the primary minute of three added on, a shocking end gave West Ham their second. Rice drove via midfield earlier than discovering Antonio, who had all of the area to show and strike, sending a curling shot round Nenad Tomovic and into the again of the web.
Antonio may have accomplished the right hat-trick three minutes after the break. Lanzini and Benrahma linked up nicely down the left, with the latter feeding his team-mate with a stunning curled cross, however Antonio despatched his left-footed shot onto the far put up.
Larnaca ended the sport a lot how they began – loads of set-plays and assessments for the West Ham defence. Substitutes Ivan Trickovski and Imad Faraj each drew saves from Alphonse Areola, however had been unable to make their well past the goalkeeper.
But finally, the Hammers noticed out the primary leg victory comfortably, taking a commanding place again to the London Stadium subsequent Thursday.
Moyes: Thrilled with outcome – however we did not play nicely
West Ham supervisor David Moyes to BT Sport:
“We did not play significantly nicely, but it surely’s job carried out once you’re disillusioned together with your efficiency. But thrilled with the outcome profitable 2-0 away from residence.
“I used to be disillusioned with our total play. I do not assume we performed significantly nicely in any respect tonight. But getting two objectives was actually necessary for us, we have not been doing that often, however we may have had one other few as nicely. That was one other a part of the frustration, however total, actually happy that we bought the outcome.
“If we will be within the quarter-final of a European competitors two years in a row, it will be one thing excellent. I hope we’re speaking about semi-finals and finals this yr, however first we have got to attempt to make the quarter-final.”
When requested if making three modifications within the sixtieth minute was with the weekend’s sport with Aston Villa in thoughts: “Of course it was, but additionally, I would not have made the modifications if I did not assume we had been comparatively snug within the sport. We bought ourselves in a very good place.”
Antonio: I used to be so near excellent hat-trick!
West Ham goalscorer Michail Antonio to BT Sport:
“We got down to get the win, get hole between us so once we go residence subsequent week, it is not simpler, however not less than we’re forward.
“I used to be so near the right hat-trick! When it hit the put up, I used to be devastated. But getting two objectives, I’m buzzing. Hopefully subsequent week, I can get some extra.
“One factor in soccer is there’s at all times going to be competitors, somebody attempting to get your shirt. Today, I managed to return out and rating some objectives. It’s whether or not I get the chance on the weekend.
“We’re extra snug, however in soccer, something can occur. Us being at residence with our followers, I really feel it may very well be simpler and hopefully one other win.”
West Ham host Aston Villa within the Premier League on Sunday; kick-off 2pm. The return leg in opposition to AEK Larnaca is subsequent Thursday on the London Stadium; kick-off 8pm.