Benrahma double not enough as late drama sees West Ham held in Genk

Date published: Thursday 4th November 2021 7:48 - Neil Foster

Said Benrahma West Ham 2021 TEAMtalk.0001

Said Benrahma scored twice as West Ham United came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Genk to sit on the verge of qualifying for the Europa League knockout stage.

The 26-year-old notched twice in the second period but Tomas Soucek’s late own goal spoilt the night for the Hammers. West Ham boss David Moyes made seven changes to the side that beat Aston Villa at the weekend. The Scot brought in goalkeeper Alphonse Areola plus defenders Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson and Issa Diop.

Midfielders Mark Noble and Arthur Masuaku along with forward Manuel Lanzini were also given the nod. Moyes made it clear in the build-up to the match that his men were in Belgium to do a job.

But they were behind as early as the fourth minute. It was the first goal they had conceded in the competition, with Joseph Paintsil finding the net.

Junya Ito’s pinpoint pass found the Ghana international who outmuscled Diop before firing past Areola. It was not exactly the start Moyes had planned for his 1,000th game as a manager in all competitions.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure. And Areola had to be on his guard to keep out efforts from two successive corners.

West Ham finally got a foothold in the game after 15 minutes. Coufal’s effort was well saved by Maarten Vandevoordt before the Czech was flagged offside.

Ito was the standout player early on and his cross was headed just over by Paul Onuachu on 18 minutes. The Nigerian should have done better and the visitors were lucky to be just one goal behind.

And the Japan international was himself guilty of wasting a guilt-edged chance two minutes later. Paintsil put the ball on a plate but the Far East star inexplicably dragged his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

The East End outfit finally put pressure on the Genk goal three minutes before the break. But Michail Antonio’s shot from inside the six yard box was superbly saved by Vandevoordt.

Issa.Diop West Ham 2021 TEAMtalk21

And a minute before half-time Patrik Hrosovsky somehow cleared Declan Rice’s attempted tap-in after Antonio’s shot was half saved.

Genk were good value for their lead after 45 minutes but, as the half progressed, the Hammers showed signs that they were far from done.

Early West Ham pressure as Benrahma levels up

Whatever Moyes said to his men in the dressing room seemed to fire them up. And the Genk rearguard had to scramble the ball away as Aaron Cresswell’s superb cross caused mayhem in the box.

Moyes opted to ring the changes on 58 minutes. Antonio, Noble and Masuaku were replaced by Soucek, Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals.

And the triple substitution paid off immediately as the Hammers levelled one minute later through Benrahma. Lanzini and Coufal combined well to find the Algerian who shot between the legs of the Genk keeper.

And with confidence now flowing, they could have scored another just a couple of minutes later. But Lanzini’s rasping shot from the left edge of the box was well saved by Vandevoordt.

The Premier League outfit continued to hit Genk on the break. And the hosts were indebted to Vandevoordt on 70 minutes whose double save kept the scores level.

But he could not prevent Benrahma’s 82nd-minute strike that looked to have sealed it for the Londoners. After superb work by Cresswell, the forward drove into the box before slipping the ball through Vandevoort’s legs.

But Genk equalised in the 88th minute via a Soucek own goal. The former Slavia Prague man’s defensive header from Angelo Preciado’s cross gave Areola no chance.

West Ham could have qualified as group winners but are still in pole position after an entertaining encounter.

 

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