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Declan Rice on target as West Ham celebrate first home victory in Europa League

admin | September 30, 2021
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Declan Rice grabbed his second European goal as West Ham won their first ever home Europa League group-stage match 2-0 against Rapid Vienna.

England midfielder Rice struck in the first half to make it two goals in two continental outings for him, and Said Benrahma scored in stoppage time to wrap up two wins from two for the Hammers.

The only downside was a skirmish among rival fans in the stands which police and stewards had to deal with.

Nevertheless it was a fitting result the day after West Ham unveiled a statue of Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters – three of their 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning side who went on to lift the World Cup for England a year later – outside London Stadium.

Having defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in their Group H opener in Croatia two weeks ago, David Moyes’ side are already in a strong position a third of the way through the stage.

The ground was rocking before kick-off, with Rapid’s ‘spirited’ visiting fans goading the home contingent and sending a few plastic bottles in their direction.

It was a match West Ham were expected to win comfortably with their opponents struggling badly in the Austrian league this season, and they almost went ahead after only eight minutes.

Rice’s glancing header from Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick beat Rapid goalkeeper Paul Gartler but came off the base of the far post.

The dominant Hammers were denied by the other post 15 minutes later, Craig Dawson thumping a header against it from a Cresswell corner.

But Rice fired them ahead on the half-hour mark. Michail Antonio chested the ball down from Andriy Yarmolenko’s pass and raided down the left before crossing low for Rice to tap into an empty net.

It was the first home goal for a West Ham player in Europe, qualifiers aside, since Frank Lampard wrapped up a 3-0 UEFA Cup win over Croatian side Osijek in 1999.

Sadly the goal prompted some rival fans, who had been winding each other up non-stop, to try to get to each other with police and stewards having to intervene. The flare-up was quickly dealt with, though.

West Ham’s tempo dropped in the second half so Moyes made a triple substitution, sending on Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Manuel Lanzini.

They had a let-off when German referee Tobias Stieler gave a penalty after Rapid sub Marco Grull went down under a non-challenge from Ben Johnson, with VAR correctly overturning the decision.

Bowen should have wrapped things up when he rounded Gartler only to fire over the crossbar.

But Benrahma made sure it was goodnight Vienna when he cut inside and curled in the second in stoppage time.

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