Daily Star




TOMAS SOUCEK struck late on yet again as West Ham secured their passage into the knockout stages, despite a snooze-fest in Serbia.

The Czech midfielder (left) has now scored in his last five matches for club and country, after an 89th-minute volley earned a scratchy win.

Now the Irons need to finish the job against Freiburg at the London Stadium the week after next to top the group and avoid a two-legged play-off in February.

Speaking to whufc.com, Soucek said: “It was a big goal because today was really difficult for us in every context.

“Especially before half-time, we didn’t play good enough, quick enough. Even in the second half we didn’t create that many chances.

“We wanted to win, we want to be first in the group.

“I’m enjoying life, because it’s perfect. It’s not like the goals, we win four or five-nil. They’ve been very important goals, many of them.

“It’s very important for me, for the team, and I’m just happy I can help the team.”

Around 320 West Ham fans made the 2,000-mile journey out to the Balkans and many of them had got their wish – in the absence of injured forwards Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio – of a first start of the season for 19-yearold striker Divin Mubama.

But he barely got a sniff of the ball as the Hammers struggled to rouse themselves. West Ham registered their first shot on target after half an hour, a tame effort from Said Benrahma.

Boss David Moyes turned to Danny Ings and Maxwel Cornet just after the hour mark.

And as the game ticked into stoppage time Cornet crossed and Soucek hammered in a volley to win it.

WEST HAM (4-3-3): Fabianski 6; Johnson 5 (Kehrer 79), Mavropanos 6, Aguerd 6, Cresswell 5 (Emerson 79); Ward-Prowse 6, SOUCEK 7, Paqueta 6; Fornals 5, Mubama 6 (Ings 67, 4), Benrahma 6 (Cornet 67, 7).

REFEREE: Allard Lindhout (Holland) 6.

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