Backa Topola 0-1 West Ham United: Tomas Soucek scores as Hammers progress to Europa League knockout stages

West Ham's Tomas Soucek celebrates his late winner against Backa Topola
Tomas Soucek has scored seven goals for West Ham this season

Tomas Soucek scored another late winner as West Ham secured their place in the Europa League knockout stage at Serbian side Backa Topola.

It had been a turgid display from David Moyes’ side with only one shot on target until Soucek met Maxwel Cornet’s cross for his fifth goal in his past five games for club and country.

He has scored in three successive West Ham games for the first time, with each a winning goal, and coming later than the 88th minute.

Soucek’s goal means West Ham have scored in 20 successive European games, winning 18 and losing only once.

It leaves Moyes’ side top of Group A and they only need a point against Freiburg on 14 December to earn top spot, and avoid a play-off in February against a side finishing third in their Champions League group.

“We’re thrilled at West Ham that we’re going to play in Europe after Christmas time for the third season,” said Moyes.

“Even playing Freiburg in the last game to win the group is hugely important. But I’d have taken this at the start of the season. If you’d said we’ll finish second I’d have taken that.

“Freiburg are a good side and we are going to have to play well.”

Hammers’ squad depth to be tested

West Ham have had plenty of famous European nights over the past two years.

Despite the late winner, this will not go down as one of them.

Their performance was often slow and ponderous, likely down to the seven changes Moyes had made from their Premier League win at Burnley on Saturday.

This match marked the start of a run of 10 games, in three competitions, between now and the end of the year, so the below-par performance may concern Moyes, with his squad depth likely to be used throughout that period.

Injuries to influential duo Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio are damaging and they need more from other senior players.

Said Benrahma had the sole shot on target before the goal, but was quiet, and Danny Ings, who came off the bench halfway through the second half, is currently on the longest goal drought of his career, at 24 games.

Cornet was another introduction off the bench, and his cross for the winner was delightful, and he, and Moyes, will be hoping this is a moment that sparks his West Ham career.

After being Europa League semi-finalists in 2022 and winning the Europa Conference League last season, a third successive season in European knockout football represents further progress for Moyes, but it may leave questions about the options West Ham have at their disposal.

“We made a few changes, some with illness, we were always going to try some other players tonight to give them game time,” added Moyes.

“We scored two late goals to beat Burnley and as a manager sometimes it’s good to win a game late.”

Player of the match

SoucekTomás Soucek

Backa Topola

  1. Squad number12Player nameIlic

  2. Squad number29Player nameCvetkovic

  3. Squad number88Player nameSós

  4. Squad number18Player nameStojic

  5. Squad number30Player namePetrovic

  6. Squad number4Player nameCalusic

  7. Squad number7Player nameRadin

  8. Squad number35Player nameDakovac

  9. Squad number17Player nameAntonic

  10. Squad number32Player nameCirkovic

  11. Squad number9Player nameMilovanovic

  12. Squad number21Player nameKuveljic

  13. Squad number37Player nameVulic

  14. Squad number27Player namePantovic

  15. Squad number77Player nameVlalukin

West Ham United

  1. Squad number28Player nameSoucek

  2. Squad number7Player nameWard-Prowse

  3. Squad number8Player nameFornals

  4. Squad number45Player nameMubama

  5. Squad number1Player nameFabianski

  6. Squad number10Player nameLucas Paquetá

  7. Squad number17Player nameCornet

  8. Squad number15Player nameMavropanos

  9. Squad number27Player nameAguerd

  10. Squad number22Player nameBenrahma

  11. Squad number33Player nameEmerson

  12. Squad number2Player nameJohnson

  13. Squad number24Player nameKehrer

  14. Squad number3Player nameCresswell

  15. Squad number18Player nameIngs

Line-ups

Backa Topola

Formation 5-3-2

  • 12Ilic
  • 29Cvetkovic
  • 17Antonic
  • 18Stojic
  • 4CalusicBooked at 63mins
  • 30PetrovicBooked at 45mins
  • 35Dakovac
  • 7RadinSubstituted forVulicat 77′minutes
  • 21KuveljicSubstituted forVlalukinat 77′minutes
  • 9MilovanovicSubstituted forPantovicat 77′minutes
  • 32CirkovicSubstituted forSósat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Simic
  • 10Mirchevski
  • 23Jorgic
  • 27Pantovic
  • 37Vulic
  • 44Krstic
  • 77Vlalukin
  • 88Sós
  • 97Rakonjac

West Ham

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Fabianski
  • 2JohnsonSubstituted forKehrerat 79′minutes
  • 15Mavropanos
  • 27Aguerd
  • 3CresswellSubstituted forEmersonat 79′minutesBooked at 87mins
  • 7Ward-Prowse
  • 28Soucek
  • 10Lucas Paquetá
  • 8FornalsBooked at 55mins
  • 45MubamaSubstituted forIngsat 67′minutes
  • 22BenrahmaSubstituted forCornetat 67′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Zouma
  • 17Cornet
  • 18Ings
  • 21Ogbonna
  • 23Areola
  • 24Kehrer
  • 32Coventry
  • 33Emerson
  • 49Anang
  • 51Chesters
  • 57Scarles
  • 61Orford

Referee:
Allard Lindhout

Attendance:
4,256

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