West Ham extend perfect start as Rice shows class to down Vienna


Declan Rice’s first-half strike and a late goal from Said Benrahma gave West Ham a comfortable 2-0 victory over Rapid Vienna to make it two from two in the Europa League.

The England man notched his second in the competition this term after good work from Michail Antonio. It seemed as though it would be the only goal of the game until Benrahma’s injury-time effort settled the nerves.

The Hammers were looking to build on their opening 2-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb. And David Moyes made six changes from the side that won in Zagreb.

Ben Johnson was preferred at right-back with Alphonse Areola in goal. Captain Mark Noble enjoyed his first start in the competition while Antonio and Rice kept their places in the side.

The Green-Whites lost 1-0 to Belgian side Genk in their first European outing this term. They have struggled domestically in 2021-2022 and could have been behind as early as the third minute.

Antonio’s cross from the right was begging to be touched in but evaded everyone. The hosts kept up the pressure for the first 20 minutes, with Benrahma particularly lively.

And the Algerian felt his side should have been awarded a penalty on 18 minutes after going to ground. However, the referee saw it differently and replays showed there was minimal contact with Kelvin Arase.

But there was no debate about the opening goal as Rice gave the Londoners the lead on 27 minutes. Antonio’s clever control and pass across the box found the England man who made it two in as many European games.

Another penalty shout was also waved away on 34 minutes as Issa Diop appeared to be impeded waiting for Noble’s cross. The first half fizzled out but not before Ercan Kara called Craig Dawson into action to make a timely block.

West Ham quickest out of the blocks

The home side began the second half well but Nikola Vlasic’s weak effort from distance was easily dealt with by Paul Gartler. Rice continued to orchestrate the midfield but chances were few and far between.

The Hammers controlled possession but could not find a way through as the rain fell heavily at the London Stadium.

Leo Greiml’s name then went into the referee’s notebook for a foul on Antonio. But Dawson headed over from Aaron Cresswell free-kick. The game sparked into life on the hour mark.

After Vlasic’s header drifted well wide, Noble tried his luck for distance but saw his effort blocked. Both sides made changes on 62 minutes with Moyes bringing on Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini for Noble, Antonio and Vlasic.

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And Bowen was soon in the thick of the action, causing panic in the Rapid rearguard. However, it seemed as though the visitors would have a chance from 12 yards as Johnson appeared to trip Marco Grull on 70 minutes.

But the official overturned his original penalty decision after viewing the pitchside monitor. Andriy Yarmolenko made way for Pablo Fornals with 14 minutes left on the clock.

And West Ham should have put the game to bed on 81 minutes. Bowen rounded the keeper but his shot from a tight angle flew wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

The official indicted five added minutes and four of those had elapsed when Benrahma put the result beyond doubt. Bowen found the African on the left side of the box, and his curling shot flew into the corner of the net.

West Ham were deserved winners and move three points clear at the top of Group H.



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