West Ham start European campaign with comfortable victory over FCSB

·2-min read

West Ham’s European campaign began with a 3-1 win against Romanian side FCSB in a match only played due to concerns over fan safety.

The opening Europa Conference League Group B encounter went ahead at the London Stadium despite the news of the Queen’s death, following direction from the Football Association and UEFA.

There were talks between the governing bodies and West Ham about calling the game off.

But it was decided that with thousands of supporters, including 3,000 from Romania, already in the stadium when the announcement from Buckingham Palace came, that the match should go ahead.

So, in the heart of the Olympic Park named after Queen Elizabeth, there was a minute’s reflection before kick-off and a spontaneous chorus of God Save The Queen from the crowd, while players from both clubs wore black armbands.

Then goals from Jarrod Bowen, Emerson Palmieri and Michail Antonio ensured West Ham, twice knocked out of the Europa League by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu in 2015 and 2016, came from behind to beat a team lying 13th in the country’s Liga 1.

FCSB, formerly part of one-time European Cup winners Steaua Bucharest, took a shock lead in the 34th minute when Darius Olaru got free down West Ham’s right-hand side and whipped in a low cross which Andrei Cordea tapped in at the far post.

The Hammers should have equalised before half-time when Flynn Downes played in Gianluca Scamacca but the big-money Italian signing skewed his shot well wide.

Boss David Moyes made a triple substitution at the break with Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and record signing Lucas Paqueta replacing Said Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini and Scamacca.

They equalised in the 65th minute when Cornet challenged FCSB keeper Stefan Tarnovanu for a high ball and French referee Benoit Bastien pointed to the spot.

Cornet had to go off after receiving lengthy treatment before Bowen stepped up to rifle the penalty high into the net.

Nine minutes later former Chelsea defender Emerson pounced following a goalmouth scramble, and with a minute remaining Antonio burst through the FCSB defence to wrap up the victory.

The Hammers are due to travel to Danish side Silkeborg for their second group-stage match on Thursday.