Rapid Vienna 0-2 West Ham United: Hammers move into Europa League last 16

Andriy Yarmolenko’s goal was his first for West Ham since scoring in a 4-0 win over Doncaster in the fourth round of the FA Cup in January

West Ham secured their place in the Europa League last 16 with a win against Rapid Vienna in a match played behind closed doors in Austria.

Andriy Yarmolenko put the Hammers ahead just before half-time when he headed in at the back post from Nikola Vlasic’s cross.

Minutes later, Yarmolenko was fouled by Maximilian Hofmann and captain Mark Noble fired the resulting penalty into the top corner to double their lead.

David Moyes’ side are now guaranteed to win Group H with a game to spare.

The Hammers won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965 and lost in the 1976 final. Their run in this season’s Europa League is already their best performance in European competition since 1980-81.

Manager Moyes told BT Sport: “A really good, professional job, not just tonight, how we’ve done in the group and great credit to the whole squad. We’ve used them all and taken some risks at times, but overall it has worked.

“At the start of the tournament I was unsure how it would be. It was relatively new to the players, but they’ve done such a great job.

“We thoroughly deserve to win the group and are looking forward to European football in March – and don’t have to play in February which helps with the congestion.”

‘Players have come a long way’

The Hammers were already guaranteed a top-two spot after collecting 10 points from their opening four matches, but this victory ensured they would finish top.

That means they avoid the qualifying round play-off in February – when the eight Europa League group runners-up face the teams that finish third in their Champions League groups – and move straight into the following phase, the last 16, in March.

There was an eerie atmosphere at the Allianz Stadion, which can host more than 28,000 people.

Increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in Austria forced the game to be held behind closed doors, although West Ham fans had already been banned from attending following crowd trouble in the away game versus Belgian side Genk.

It was a far cry from the Hammers’ 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna at a packed London Stadium in September -…

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