Kurt Zouma, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio all shone as West Ham United ran out 2-0 winners over Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
West Ham United kicked off their UEFA Europa League campaign in style as they produced a clinical performance to beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 on Thursday. It was a game wherein the two sides had equal share of the possession, with only one side appearing threatening or defensively astute.
After slowly growing into the game, West Ham were served the opening goal on a platter as Michail Antonio pounced on a shocking back pass by Kevin Theophile-Catherine, reminiscent of Jesse Lingard’s horrible pass of a similar nature earlier in the week in the UEFA Champions League. As for Antonio, he did not need a second invitation to score, handing the visitors the lead.
Shortly after, West Ham ought to have been two up, only for Ryan Fredericks’s effort to be saved by Dominik Livakovic. The Hammers, though, did get their second goal thanks to another error by a Dinamo Zagreb player, although Declan Rice still needed to produce a marvellous run and a superb finish to make it 2-0 five minutes into the second period.
That goal was enough for West Ham to secure all three points, with the margin of victory taking them to the top of Group H in the Europa League ahead of KRC Genk, who beat Rapid Wien 1-0. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over David Moyes’s men.
Lukasz Fabianski: 6/10
Easy as you like for Fabianski, whose hands were given a rest on Thursday, with Dinamo Zagreb not managing to threaten the West Ham United goal one bit. Completed 68 percent of his passes, in what was the only action he was involved in.
Ryan Fredericks: 7/10
Deputising for the rested Vladimir Coufal, Fredericks produced a solid performance. A constant outlet down the right flank, he linked up well with Nikola Vlasic, while also being set up by Michail Antonio in the first half, only to have his effort saved by Dominik Livakovic. Did his part well at the back.
Kurt Zouma: 8/10
Making his debut, Zouma showed just why West Ham were so desperate to secure his services this past summer. The Frenchman was a leader at the back for the visitors, organising the backline so well that Dinamo Zagreb did not even create a single big chance in the game. Made six clearances and three interceptions in a superb start to his stint with the Hammers.
Kurt Zouma tonight on his West Ham debut, absolute unit.
— Uber West Ham (@UberWestHam) September 16, 2021
Issa Diop: 7/10
Handed a rare start at the heart of the West Ham defence, Diop combined well with Zouma, forging a solid central defensive partnership. Unlike his compatriot, he did suffer one or two nervy moments at the back, although it did not hurt him in the end. Job well done.
Aaron Cresswell: 7/10
A surprise starter, considering Coufal was benched, although his selection was understandable as Arthur Masuaku continues to be eased back into the thick of action. As for his performance on the pitch, Cresswell was largely untroubled on his flank, though he did produce one fine piece of defending in the second half. Got forward typically well and even played a couple of key passes.
Tomas Soucek: 7/10
With Moyes choosing to stick with West Ham’s first-choice central midfield pairing, Soucek had the onus on him to make an impact in both the phases of the game. And the Czech midfielder did just that, proving to be indomitable alongside Declan Rice in the double pivot while proving to be a major threat in set-piece situations and even playing two key passes.
Declan Rice: 8/10
A game wherein Rice once again led the team by example. The West Ham skipper hardly put a foot wrong, as he won four duels while making two interceptions and tackles each. Misplaced just one pass all game, but the cherry on top was his brilliant driving run and the subsequent finish, which sealed the points for West Ham. What a quality player.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 16, 2021
Nikola Vlasic: 6/10
Making his full debut for West Ham, Vlasic flitted in and out of the game as he continues to forge the relationships with his teammates in the final third. So, it was not too surprising that he only attempted 16 passes, completing only 11 of them while creating no chances. Will hope to grow into his role, slowly but surely.
Manuel Lanzini: 6/10
Handed a rare start, Lanzini had the opportunity to make a case for more regular inclusion in the starting lineup. The Argentine was reliable with the ball at his feet, completing all but one of the passes he attempted, although he did not really create a chance in the game. Still, this was a step in the right direction.
Pablo Fornals: 6/10
Moved out to the left wing owing to the return of Lanzini, Fornals worked incredibly hard in the game and even produced a couple of key passes. Did not have many chances to score, although he did have an effort saved by Livakovic. Put in the hard yards defensively, winning three duels while completing three tackles, an interception and a clearance.
Michail Antonio: 7/10
The Player to Watch in out preview, Antonio needed to prove that the display against Southampton was a mere aberration, which is exactly what he did. That is because in typical fashion, he forced an error out of an opposition defender before finding the back of the net from an acute angle. Ought to have had an assist as well, only for Fredericks to fail to convert. In the form of his life.
1999 – Michail Antonio is West Ham's first goalscorer in major European competition (excl. qualifiers) since Marc-Vivien Foé against Osijek in September 1999. Toes. pic.twitter.com/6DJTrE6xnK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 16, 2021
Said Benrahma: 6/10
On for Lanzini, Benrahma played well within himself, as West Ham went into energy conservation mode after going two up. Misplaced just three passes while creating just the solitary chance.
Jarrod Bowen: 6/10
On for Vlasic, Bowen, like Benrahma, was not too expressive. And he did not need to play creative football either, with West Ham looking to see the game out in efficient manner, which he helped in facilitating.
Mark Noble: N/A
A late introduction, Noble helped see the game out.
Arthur Masuaku: N/A
On for Fornals, Masuaku got some valuable minutes under his belt late on.
Andriy Yarmolenko: N/A
Introduced in place of Antonio, Yarmolenko barely saw the ball late on.