Wednesday, December 8

Michail Antonio and Declan Rice lead West Ham to victory at Dinamo Zagreb | European League

West Ham had a way of silencing doubts about their inexperience on the European stage. They answered the questions playing like seasoned travelers. There were no stumbles on the part of David Moyes’ players as they took their first steps into the unknown and in the end, with Dinamo Zagreb confused by West Ham’s organization, it was difficult to know which team were supposed to be the rookies at this level. .

Moyes couldn’t have asked for a more imposing performance. West Ham was smarter and smarter throughout, their maturity and inventiveness were key when they started their Europa League campaign with a memorable victory. Dinamo were outscored and had no response to goals from Michail Antonio and Declan Rice, who killed the game like a contest with an impressive solo effort early in the second half.

Rice excelled in midfield, excelling in his European debut, but the England international was not alone. West Ham was flawless. This was his first appearance in the main draw of a European competition since 2006, when a team that included Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano was eliminated from the first round of the UEFA Cup, but there were no signs of nervousness. Leaning back was not part of West Ham’s plan, which fell back on an undulating pitch, passing with crisp safety against opponents who have humiliated Arsenal and Tottenham here in recent seasons.

“I was really satisfied,” Moyes said. “Zagreb has a very good history. I knew it was going to be a difficult match. We made the players realize what it would be like. It’s certainly new to Declan Rice. He has played international soccer for his country, but not for his club. Is a great player “.

Playing in Europe for the sixteenth consecutive season, Dinamo seemed upset about being turned away in front of their boisterous fans. The Croatian champions struggled to do something during the first half. Quick to impose their muscular play on the hosts, West Ham was dominant. Tomas Soucek and Rice set the tone by establishing control in midfield, Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks attacked from the side and it was not a surprise when the advance came in the 21st minute, Kévin Théophile-Catherine’s pass giving Antonio his fifth goal of the season.

It was an unfortunate mistake by the former Cardiff defender, who was replaced by Deni Juric at half-time. Too fast and strong for his markers, Antonio took the fumble in an instant and the forward had the composure to finish, circling Dominik Livakovic before hitting the empty net.

Declan Rice celebrates with Manuel Lanzini after scoring West Ham's second goal.
Declan Rice celebrates with Pablo Fornals after scoring West Ham’s second goal. Photograph: Jurij Kodrun / Getty Images

Dynamo, which was knocked out of Champions League qualification by Sheriff Tiraspol, could have conceded again moments later. Antonio held the ball up before releasing Fredericks and Livakovic denied the West Ham right-back a rare goal by saving with his feet.

At that stage, West Ham’s only concern was its inability to do more of its supremacy. Dinamo was destined to improve over time. There were flashes of Mislav Orsic, whose hat-trick stunned Spurs in the round of 16 of this competition last season, and a shot from Bruno Petkovic that whistled wide as the half drew to a close.

West Ham had to focus on the back. Kurt Zouma, who made an impressive debut alongside Issa Diop in central defense, was in the right place to block a shot from Dinamo captain Arijan Ademi. There was a change in mood, a feeling that Dinamo was preparing for an enthusiastic comeback, and Moyes was smart to sense danger early in the second half, eliminating Manuel Lanzini shortly after he risked a second warning with a thrust on Stefan Ristovski. .

Fortunately for Lanzini, West Ham had already doubled their lead when they gave way to Saïd Benrahma in the 52nd minute. Rice had just produced something special, cleared after stealing possession from Petkovic in the middle of his own half. It was a remarkable run from the West Ham captain, who pushed Petkovic aside before clattering into the box and firing an angled shot through Livakovic’s legs.

Rice, who made his 150th appearance for West Ham, celebrated by running to the corner and rooting for fans behind Dinamo’s goal. Ademi was furious; West Ham was defiant. Luka Ivanusec approached the hosts twice, sending shots just wide, but in the end home fans were reduced to whistling at former Hajduk Split midfielder Nikola Vlasic as he gave way to Jarrod Bowen.

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