West Ham put relegation struggle aside to thrash AEK in Europa Conference League
Goals from Gianluca Scamacca, Jarrod Bowen and teenager Divin Mubama made it a perfect 10 wins out of 10 for West Ham United in the Europa Conference League.
The Hammers put their domestic struggles to one side to sweep past Cypriot side AEK Larnaca 4-0 at the London Stadium, and 6-0 on aggregate.
David Moyes’ side came through a two-legged play-off to qualify for the competition proper and then won all six of their group matches before dismantling Larnaca to reach the quarter-finals.
Scamacca, West Ham’s £35million summer signing who has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, was handed his chance in attack with Michail Antonio, the double goalscorer in the first leg, out injured.
The 24-year-old, whose “physical data” is down on the numbers it should be, according to Moyes, looked eager to impress from the start.
He sent a curler from 25 yards narrowly wide before finding the net after 20 minutes.
Fed by Manuel Lanzini inside the left corner of the penalty area, Scamacca cut inside defender Mikel Gonzales before firing goalwards.
It was a rather scuffed effort which squirmed through the grasp of goalkeeper Kenan Piric as it rolled in.
Scamacca had the ball in the net again moments later when he raced on to Lucas Paqueta’s through-ball but an offside flag halted the celebrations.
Larnaca then had a goal ruled out for offside themselves, Nemanja Nikolic denied with VAR confirming the decision.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men just before half-time, Gustavo Ledes seeing red for a foul on Pablo Fornals.
The Hammers promptly doubled their lead 90 seconds into the second half when Piric palmed Scamacca’s shot to the feet of Bowen, who finished at the far post.
And just two minutes later Bowen, left out of the England squad earlier on Thursday, scored a third with an audacious header from Aaron Cresswell’s cross.
In the process Bowen became West Ham’s all-time leading scorer in Europe with eight goals.
There was then a special moment for local lad Mubama, the 18-year-old scoring his first career goal with a neat flick from Tomas Soucek’s header, to wrap up a satisfying night’s work for Moyes’ men.