Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 West Ham United: Hammers make perfect start to European adventure
The newcomers to the tournament weren’t upset because the premier league club dominated from start to finish.
Michel antonio showed a striker’s instinct to give the Hammers the lead in the first half by capitalizing on a defensive error, and Declan rice sealed the win after the break with a quality solo goal.
The Hammers were professional in handling their lead and kept the ball well all night as they sailed towards the top of Group H.
History of the match
Western ham seemed lively in the opening minutes, winning a few corners as they settled into play, but the first set pieces came to nothing.
The visitors continued to control possession throughout the first 10, pushing forward into the opposition’s half as they looked for an opening with the hosts staying deep in rigid form.
Despite the low block the England team found themselves in, Moyes’ men remained patient, moving the ball well across the pitch and setting the tempo of the game.
The Croatian side struggled to build momentum from the start, with their first effort coming from dangerman, Mislav Orsic, but his free kick from a distance didn’t hamper Lukasz Fabianski.
Théophile-Catherine’s ball was under-touched, and showing the same instinct that saw him take advantage of Soyuncu’s mistake in the game against Leicester, Antonio beat the keeper of the ball before finishing with ease.
Ryan fredericks came close to going 2-0 moments later after running behind on Antonio’s pass, but Livakovic reduced the angle well and refused the full-back.
Despite the team’s lack of European experience as a collective, the Hammers were comfortable in the hostile atmosphere of the Baltic, their ability to control the occasion a sign of the club’s progress.
– Tom Clark (@_thomasjclark) September 16, 2021
Manuel Lanzini was unhappy to get a stern booking with half an hour gone, but the resulting free kick came off comfortably.
The 2,000 faithful traveling Claret and Bleu will have been very happy to see their team enter the break with a well-deserved lead, a perfect start to life on the continent.
There was a change at the break as Deni Juric replaced Théophile Catherine, the defender at fault for the goal who had an evening to forget.
Zagreb made a much better start to the second half, and Petkovic narrowly pulled wide just after a few moments, an attempt as close as any they pulled in the first 45 minutes.
Western ham must have activated as the intensity of the game ramped up, but they were fortunate enough to keep eleven players on the pitch when Lanzini narrowly avoided getting another warning with a late tackle.
Despite the improvement of the hosts, Declan rice took the score to 2-0 in 50 minutes with a fantastic solo goal. The “skipper of the night showed tenacity to win the ball over in the opposing half of the field, then launched a forward run before slipping under the keeper with his left foot.
Lanzini was replaced by Benrahma immediately after the goal as Moyes made sure to avoid any unnecessary dismissals that would allow the opposition to return to the game.
Ivanusec came close to pulling one off for Dinamo as they looked to make a comeback, but Fabianski was relieved to see the ball sinking just inches from his far post.
An hour later, the home team started to put more pressure, the premier league team showing the first signs of fatigue as they sought to defend their lead. Jarrod bowen became the second Western ham substitute to present when entering for Vlasic.
In the passages, the Irons played some fine passing football, displaying the class and professionalism of an established European team as they aimed to see the final minutes and come back to London with three points.
The triple substitution allowed the Hammers to rest key players ahead of the week, while giving others like the captain minutes. Marc Noble, whose smile was clear to all when he entered the fray.
There were few chances for either side in the final stages of the match, Western ham manage the last few minutes as they aimed for a valuable victory.
Noble controlled from the middle of the park, and the manager’s instructions were clear as each player took few touches and no risk.
The Croatian fans were relentless all night long, but the cheers of the on-the-go Hammers were loud and clear as the final whistle ended a flawless performance for West Ham.