West Ham took a big step towards the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League with a comfortable first-leg victory at AEK Larnaca.
Michail Antonio scored two first-half goals for David Moyes’ side, who have now won all nine of their matches in the competition this term
It was no more than the Hammers deserved with Antonio almost adding a third after the break when he drove a low effort against the right-hand post.
The Cypriot hosts caused the visitors some early problems but West Ham grew in confidence and took the lead when unmarked Antonio headed Said Benrahma’s left-wing delivery into the right corner.
With the Premier League side searching for a second, Pablo Fornals drove wide of the left post moments before Antonio doubled the lead when he collected a pass on the edge of the area and superbly curled an effort around his marker into the top-right corner.
Having made wholesale changes to his starting line-up, Moyes also made several substitutions after the break to keep players fresh – the Hammers’ top priority clearly being to retain their Premier League status.
The changes impacted on their overall control of the game, but they were still organized enough to hold off their spirited opponents and create openings, with Lucas Paqueta missing a late opportunity to add to the scoring.
Nevertheless, having gone close to Europa League glory last term by reaching the semi-finals, Moyes will have been pleased with his side’s overall performance.
The Scot has made no secret of his ambition to win this competition – which would also provide a route back into Europe next term – and on the evidence of this season it would be difficult to back against them becoming the first English side to lift the trophy.