o say West Ham were a little underwhelming in the first-half against Genk at the London Stadium would be an understatement.
While the Belgians were heading into Thursday’s Europa League group stage meeting having lost four out of five games, it was the away side who looked more dangerous in the opening stages.
A tight offside call saw an opener from forward Theo Bongonda ruled out and, though the correct decision, it was a warning sign. Indeed, winger Junya Ito got in-behind the home defence on a number of occasions, only for the final ball to let him down.
Paul Onuachu, meanwhile, looked like the kind of striker David Moyes’ side lack without Michail Antonio. A bustling presence in the final third, he offered an out-ball for a team looking to play on the counter and a focal point for the attack, though admittedly should have scored with a free header after Alphonse Areola missed what looked like a routine catch from a corner.
Still, West Ham found a way, which is becoming a trademark under Moyes.
Aaron Cresswell – who largely looked like their biggest threat – whipped in a corner on the stroke of half-time that Craig Dawson powerfully headed home after inexplicably being afforded a running start by a defence who had looked resolute until that point.
All of the frustration in the first-half, however, seemed to evaporate in two minutes. Cresswell crossed for Issa Diop just before the hour mark after a needless free-kick was given away and the central defender punished Genk with another powerful header.
Just a minute later, Jarrod Bowen was allowed to ghost into the box after some good pressure won West Ham the ball back from kick-off, and his shot somehow evaded Maarten Vandevoort from close range.
From there, it was largely plain sailing. With pretty much every attack, Moyes’ team looked dangerous, although Kristian Thorstvedt had two good chances to get his side back into the game.
The composure with which West Ham played was indicative of the sense of calmness Moyes has instilled. They were functional rather than fantastic but, crucially, got the job done.
Now, progression into the knockout rounds looks all but secure.