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Sunday 8th October 2023
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West Ham United 3-1 FK TSC Bačka Topola
UEFA Europa League Group A, London Stadium, Thursday 21 September 2023, 8pm BST

West Ham United’s 2023/24 Europa League campaign got off to a winning start courtesy of a 3-1 come-from-behind Group A victory over FK TSC Bačka Topola at London Stadium.

Mohammed Kudus was the hero on his full debut in Claret and Blue, forcing Nemanja Petrović to put through his own net before scoring a superb header of his own.Tomáš Souček added late gloss with a trademark header from another pinpoint James Ward-Prowse corner, as the latter took his assist tally to five in five appearances in all competitions!

Those goals all came after Petar Stanić’s opportunistic strike two minutes after half-time had threatened a huge shock for the Serbian SuperLiga leaders. As it was, the UEFA Europa Conference League champions ultimately extended their unbeaten European run to 16 matches and will travel to SC Freiburg in Germany in a fortnight top of the group.

Playing against opposition from a 22nd different country in European competition – and a 12th in just over two years – the Hammers were unquestionably the more polished of the two teams on show, but it needed a Kudus-inspired comeback to secure an opening-night victory.

The Hammers line-up against TSC

The opening 35 minutes were dominated by the Hammers, who enjoyed over 80 per cent possession, but could not turn that dominance into goals, initially at least. That is not to say the hosts did not go close, though, with NINE different outfield players having at least one attempt on the TSC goal.

Ward-Prowse and Kudus both saw efforts deflected narrowly off-target, Saïd Benrahma and Pablo Fornals – twice – had low shots blocked, Thilo Kehrer and Lucas Paquetá saw efforts saved by goalkeeper Nikola Simić, Konstantinos Mavropanos headed wide, while both Kudus and Angelo Ogbonna nodded over.

Having weathered the early storm, which did not quite match the pre-match hailstorm which drenched London Stadium an hour before kick-off, TSC grew in belief.

Saša Jovanović had seen an early shot gathered by Fabiański – making just his second European appearance for the Hammers – but it took until added-time for the Serbs to threaten his goal again. When they did, it was a serious threat, too, as Nemanja Stojić rose and saw his header from Stanić’s left-wing corner skim the crossbar.

The only player who did not have a goal attempt in the first half, Aaron Cresswell, was replaced by Emerson at half-time.

Within two minutes of the restart, West Ham were behind. Ogbonna collected from Ward-Prowse on halfway, turned and was caught in possession by Stanić, who raced through and confidently finished past Fabiański.

Having seen his side fall behind, Moyes sent on Michail Antonio just past the hour-mark, and it took just five minutes for his team to draw level.

Benrahma tricked his way into space on the left and crossed with his right. Kudus went in at the far post and the ball bounced inside the upright, but it was Petrović who was credited with the decisive touch.

Kudus would have to wait for his goal, but for less than four minutes. The Hammers won a left-wing corner, Ward-Prowse delivered and registered yet another assist as the Ghanaian lost his marker and powered a header into the same bottom left-hand corner.

With London Stadium now jubilant, the hosts went looking for a decisive third. Paquetá’s volley flew too high – as did Saša Jovanović’s audacious effort from the halfway line – before another Ward-Prowse corner was powered in at the neat post by substitute Souček.

TSC were now on the ropes and Souček, Antonio and Mavropanos all went close to adding further goals late on, but the job had been done and, with Freiburg winning 3-2 at Olympiacos, West Ham go to Germany top of the group on goal difference.


West Ham United: Fabiański, Kehrer, Mavropanos, Ogbonna ©, Cresswell (Emerson 46), Paquetá (Cornet 86), Ward-Prowse, Fornals (Antonio 61), Benrahma, Kudus, Ings (Souček 76)
Subs not used: Areola (GK), Anang (GK), Coufal, Johnson, Zouma, Aguerd, Coventry, Mubama

Booked: Kehrer

Goal: Petrović 66 (og), Kudus 70, Souček 81


FK TSC Bačka Topola: Simić, Cvetković, Antonić ©, Đorđević (Krstić 70), Petrović (Rakonjac 81), Radin, Đakovac (Ćirković 81), Stojić, Kuveljić (Vulić 81), Stanić, Jovanović (Mirchevski 90+2)
Subs not used: 
Ilić (GK), Jorgić (GK), Milovanović, Pantović, Vlalukin, Sós

Booked: Kuveljić

Goal: Stanić 47


Referee: Filip Glova (Slovakia)

Attendance: 41,374


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