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A comfortable win for the Hammers

Article by Tom Burford

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West Ham eased to a comfortable victory against FC Lusitans at Upton Park, leaving them in an excellent position to qualify for the 2nd qualifying round. Many supporters might have expected a slightly more convincing score line, but the home side were rarely troubled in their victory.

It did take the majority of the first half for West Ham to break the deadlock after Diafra Sakho missed to sitters in the early exchanges, but it was last season’s top scorer that put The Hammers ahead. The goal was created by an invigorated Mauro Zarate who showed really quick feet and a deftly chipped cross to find the Senegalese international’s head on 40 minutes.

You could sense the relief amongst the fans after a pretty frustrating opening half, where West Ham didn’t really take advantage of their superior line-up.

But 5 minutes later it was two. Zarate was involved again with some lovely, intersperse play with Morgan Amalfitano who found himself through on goal, but he unselfishly squared it to Sakho who calmly placed a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The two goals on half time really seemed to kick the home side up a gear in the second period with Amalfitano nearly catching Lusitans goalkeeper Rubio off his line with a long range volley. Academy graduate Reece Oxford then fired just wide from 25 yards out with a thunderous drive which just missed the top right hand corner of the goal. 16 year old Oxford became West Ham’s youngest ever player tonight and looked pretty composed throughout, certainly a very bright prospect.

The third goal finally came through captain for the night James Tomkins who clinically headed home Matt Jarvis’ cross.
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With the result in the bag, manager for the night Terry Westley turned to youth to see the game out, introducing academy graduates; Josh Cullen, Elliot Lee and Djair Parfitt-Williams to the fray. Cullen in particular looked very bright with both Elliot Lee and Parfitt-Williams showing some neat touches with the ball at their feet.

Cullen hit the bar late on after some good work in the channels from Elliot Lee found the midfielder in space, he bent a shot from 25 yards out, over the keeper and onto the top of the crossbar.

It could really have been much more than three, but West Ham will be delighted with the win, and the clean sheet to boot.

The standout player for me tonight was Mauro Zarate. He showed fantastic feet and excellent vision throughout the game. It took a while for West Ham to really test the Lusitans defence, and the Argentinian was the man who looked like he would be the likely architect. I was also very impressed with both Matt Jarvis and Morgan Amalfitano, Jarvis in particular had one of his best games in a West Ham shirt (despite the poor quality of the opposition). He became very predictable at points last year, always cutting inside to whip in a hopeful cross, but tonight he was prepared to attack the box and try and beat the full-back which led to a couple for excellent chances.

As I mentioned before, Reece Oxford looked extremely composed for a young man of his age, he’ll be a regular in a few years’ time.

I don’t think West Ham have a lot to do to ensure a safe passage through to round two, Lusitans were way off the pace tonight and for me, West Ham really could have made it a cricket score if they were a bit more clinical in front of goal.

Roll on next Thursday!!

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