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Backa Topola vs West Ham United. UEFA Europa League Group A.

Gradski stadion Backa TopolaAttendance4,256.

Backa Topola 0

    West Ham United 1

    • T Soucek (89th minute)

    Backa Topola 0-1 West Ham: Tomas Soucek nets late winner to secure place in Europa League knockout stages

    Match report as Tomas Soucek scores 89th-minute winner for West Ham in Serbia against Backa Topola; Divin Mubama, 19, started up front for David Moyes' side, who were without Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio; West Ham top of Group A and need a point against Freiburg to reach round of 16

    Tomas Soucek celebrates scoring for West Ham
    Image: Tomas Soucek celebrates scoring West Ham's late winner

    West Ham secured their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a 1-0 victory at Backa Topola despite a below-par performance.

    Tomas Soucek's close-range volley in the final minute kept West Ham top of Group A, but they must avoid defeat in their last fixture at home to second-placed Freiburg to stay there and advance straight into the round of 16 instead of facing a two-legged play-off in February.

    David Moyes' side struggled to break down the Serbian SuperLiga side that is yet to win a game in their European campaign.

    West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made two first-half saves before substitute Maxwel Cornet made a telling impact, delivering a superb cross for Soucek's late winner.

    How West Ham reached the knockout stages

    Moyes made seven changes to his side from their win at Burnley and in the absence of injured forwards Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio, 19-year-old striker Divin Mubama led the line.

    But the youngster barely had a kick as West Ham struggled to create any chances while the hosts started with Uros Milovanovic forcing an early save from Fabianski.

    Then an error from Aaron Cresswell gifted Aleksandar Cirkovic a shooting opportunity with Fabianski saving again.

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    West Ham's Lucas Paqueta, centre, challenges for the ball
    Image: West Ham's Lucas Paqueta, centre, challenges for the ball

    West Ham registered their first shot on target after half an hour, a tame effort from Said Benrahma on his 150th West Ham appearance which was easily dealt with by Veljko Ilic.

    Moyes turned to Danny Ings and Cornet just after the hour, replacing Benrahma and Mubama, in a bid to inject some life into his unconvincing side.

    As the game ticked into stoppage time, Cornet crossed from the left and Soucek hammered home a volley from inside the six-yard box to win it.

    Moyes: Sometimes it's good to win late

    West Ham manager David Moyes: "We're thrilled at West Ham that we're going to play in Europe after Christmas time for the third season.

    "Even playing Freiburg in the last game to win the group is hugely important. But I'd have taken this at the start of the season, if you'd said we'll finish second I'd have taken that. Freiburg are a good side and we are going to have to play well.

    "We made a few changes, some with illness, we were always going to try some other players tonight [Thursday] to give them game time.

    "We scored two late goals on Saturday to beat Burnley and as a manager sometimes it's good to win games late."

    Opta Stats: West Ham level with Real Madrid in Europe

    • Since the start of the 2021-22 season, West Ham have won more games in major European competitions than any other English side (22). In fact, no side across Europe have won more such games than the Hammers (level with Real Madrid, also 22).
    • This was West Ham's 109th game in all competitions without a goalless draw, with their last such result coming in December 2021 against Burnley in the Premier League.
    • West Ham managed just seven shots in this match - the Hammers have only managed fewer in one of their previous 20 games in major Euro competitions (four vs Gent in April this year).
    • Tomas Soucek has scored in three consecutive appearances for West Ham for the very first time, while all three of the midfielder's strikes have been the winning goal in the 88th minute or later.

    What's next?

    Live Super Sunday

    West Ham host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 2pm. The Hammers complete their Europa League group stage campaign against Freiburg at 8pm on December 14.

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