Late Tomas Soucek own-goal makes West Ham wait longer for Europa League knockout qualification
Europa League Group H, Cageka Arena – KRC Genk 2 (Paintsil 5’, Soucek OG 88’) West Ham United 2 (Benrahma 59’, 82’)
Genk's Daniel Munoz Mejia, Genk's Junya Ito, Genk's Joseph Paintsil and Genk's Paul Onuachu celebrate after scoring during a soccer game between Belgian KRC Genk and English club West Ham United, Thursday 04 November 2021 in Genk, on the fourth day of the
David Moyes celebrated his 1000th game in club management with a point in the Europa League as he saw his West Ham side held by a spirited KRC Genk 2-2 in Belgium.
In a game where both sides had chances, the Belgians started the brighter, taking the lead inside the opening five minutes. Pacy wide men Junya Ito and Joseph Paintsil linking up to carve the visiting defence open, with the Japanese providing the through ball for the Ghanian to finish with aplomb.
The Hammers struggled to deal with the hosts' quick start, and Bryan Heynan and Paul Onuachu went close and were denied by Alphonse Areola in the away net.
Moyes' men would fight back though: Craig Dawson forced a brilliant save by Maarten Vandevoordt from an Aaron Cresswell free kick, and the central defender came close with a powerful header from a corner that whistled just over.
After the break, the Premier League side began to show their quality, and Said Benrahma began to take the game by the scruff of its neck, getting on the ball more often and driving directly at the Genk backline.
The Algerian's efforts would be rewarded; he scored the equaliser on the hour after some lovely link-up between himself and returning right-back Vladimir Coufal, and the former Brentford forward finished hard and low through the flailing Vandevoordt's legs.
The away side kept pressing for the winner as Moyes threw his star men - Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals - into the mix as they sought to protect their 100% record in Europe, and it was Benrahma at the double to produce a fabulous flick and finish on 82 minutes to produce what should have sealed the deal.
But late on, substitute Soucek would turn the pantomime villain - deflecting an Angelo Preciardo cross beyond his own goalkeeper two minutes from time as John van den Brom's men snatched a deserved point to poop Moyes' party.
Genk's Joseph Paintsil celebrates after scoring the 1-0 goal during a soccer game between Belgian KRC Genk and English club West Ham United, Thursday 04 November 2021 in Genk, on the fourth day of the UEFA Europa League group stage, in group H. BELGA PHOT
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TALKING POINT - SLOW OUT THE BLOCKS, QUICK-FIRE FINISH
After that early flurry from the hosts, it took the Hammers a while to really get going.
Their passing passages were constantly being shut off by bodies in blue, and none of their patterns of play were working out, with runs not being found, either by a poor execution of a pass, or by brilliant Belgian covering.
But as the hosts grew weary, the Premier League side's quality began to show.
GENK, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 04: Said Benrahma of West Ham United celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League group H match between KRC Genk and West Ham United at Luminus Arena on November 04, 2021 in Genk, Belgium. (Photo
Image credit: Getty Images
Benrahma began to dazzle under the floodlights, aptly supported by Fornals to his left and Manuel Lanzini to his right. Jarrod Bowen did well dropping deep and allowing for space in behind the Genk backline when he replaced Michail Antonio, who was expertly silenced by Jhon Lucumi.
But it was all about Benrahma at the end of the day, and without him, the scoreline could have looked very different indeed.
MAN OF THE MATCH - SAID BENRAHMA, WEST HAM
It was a toss-up between the Algerian and Lucumi, but you've got to give to the two-goal hero.
With his side lacking that inspiration to drag themselves back into the game, the former Brentford forward stood up and took responsibilty, hauling the Hammers back into the contest with direct dribbling, tricky feet and fabulous flair.
His link-up play with Fornals and Bowen when they came on raised his game to a level above anyone else on the pitch, and he was desperately unfortunate to see all his hard work undone by the cruel own goal with two minutes to play.
5': GOAL!!! It's Joseph Paintsil early for the hosts! West Ham caught napping by a lovely move, Ito with the vision to slide his opposite winger in behind, and he finishes aptly beyond Areola, who gets a hand to it! Terrible start for the Hammers!
22': Cresswell's delivery... Dawson! Good save by Vandervoort, who flicks it over the bar with his fingertips.
45': Goal! Is it? No! A penalty box melee falls to Antonio, whose strike wriggles under Vandevoort and towards the goal-line, but Hrosovsky manages to scramble it clear whilst on the floor, and the referee checks his watch as the visiting players appeal! 1-0 still.
59': GOAL!!! West Ham right back on level terms. Said Benrahma! Well worked from Lanzini, just inside Orteaga for Coufal, and his cut-back is met by the Algerian who slides it between the legs of Vandevoort for the equaliser. 1-1.
82': GOALLLL!!!! They have turned it around! Said Benrahma at the double; with a sumptuous bit of skill, round Lucumi with a deft turn, and pokes it beyond Vandevoordt. What a beauty of a solo goal. 2-1.
88': OWN GOAL!!! Oh no! It's Tomas Soucek who's put it beyond his own goalkeeper after a Preciado cross. 2-2!