West Ham 4-0 AEK Larnaca: Gianluca Scamacca back on the scoresheet as Conference League journey continues

Statement: Scamacca has endured a difficult week  (Getty Images)
Statement: Scamacca has endured a difficult week (Getty Images)

West Ham turned on the style and allayed the pressure on their manager. Into the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference LeagueDavid Moyes’s side storm, Cypriot minnows AEK Larnaca duly swatted aside.

In a Premier League season that hasn’t fallen off the rails because it was never managed to actually get on them in the first place, continental competition has provided much-needed solace for the struggling Hammers.

They may be threatened by the crippling jeopardy of a relegation scrap, but Moyes’s side have now won all ten matches they’ve played in Europe this season.

At a half-packed London Stadium on this pleasant Thursday evening, Moyes made six changes — and his side’s fortunes duly changed from their uninspiring 1-1 draw with Aston Villa here on Sunday.

It could have been a grim international break for West Ham if they’d gone out of the Europa Conference League tonight. They led Cypriot side AEK Larnaca — who have never won a league title — 2-0 after a clinical if dull victory on the Mediterranean last week.

The most controversial of Moyes’s six changes was the inclusion of Gianluca Scamacca, the Italy striker who signed for £35m in the summer, making him the fourth-priciest-ever signing in West Ham’s history.

Moyes has not started Scamacca since January and said this week that his “physical data” must improve, suggesting the Italian’s work rate has left something to be desired.

Scamacca seized his chance, dropping in and linking play excellently in the 54 minutes he played.

He scored West Ham’s first of four on the night when he beat Mikel Gonzalez and shot through goalkeeper Kenan Piric. It was his first goal since early January, and palpable was the relief on the face of an Italy international who Roberto Mancini insists needs to play more club football.

Jarrod Bowen was West Ham’s talisman last year with 18 goals in all competitions. He has lost his edge for much of this season, but this was an excellent performance from him.

Divin Mubama capped off a great night for West Ham by scoring the last goal (Getty Images)
Divin Mubama capped off a great night for West Ham by scoring the last goal (Getty Images)

He swept home the rebound when Scamacca forced Piric into a second-half save. Then he glanced a glorious header over the diving keeper from Aaron Cresswell’s corner.

By now West Ham were 3-0 ahead, 5-0 up on aggregate, and cruising through. Larnaca offered precious little and were down to ten men before the break when VAR overturned a yellow and ensured referee Georgi Kabakov of Bulgaria gave the careless Gus Ledes a red for his rough foul on the excellent Pablo Fornals.

And 18-year-old substitute Divin Mubama capped off the perfect night for Moyes when he flicked home intelligently for his first career goal.

It marked the start of Mubama’s journey. West Ham’s journey in Europe runs on.