The introduction of Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca inspired West Ham to grind out a gritty 1-0 win over Anderlecht in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.
The Hammers came up against stubborn resistance in Belgium as Anderlecht attempted to keep their unbeaten Conference League run going – they had previously beaten Silkeborg 1-0 and drawn 0-0 with FCSB.
Their defence has been miserly throughout the competition but they were undone by a piece of Brazilian magic, as Paqueta fed the ball through to Scamacca, and he swivelled to score into the bottom corner.
That goal came after 76 minutes of hard running, and occasionally frustrating possession.
Anderlecht made chances in the first half, as both Fabio Silva and Yari Verschaeren saw efforts blocked by the Hammers defence.
Mikey Antonio had a blaze at goal from range but he was quiet throughout prior to his substitution, which saw Scamacca introduced.
It was Said Benrahma who had the biggest first half chance, as Jarrod Bowen, so energetic down the right, wriggled away and squared for the Algerian. With the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to blaze a shot over the bar.
It was a desperate miss and rather summed the game up, as it devolved into a battle of attrition thereafter.
Flynn Downes was mightily impressive in midfield, but it was Paqueta who set Scamacca up for his goal.
On 83 minutes, Alphonse Areola produced a genuinely world-class save to deny Silva, who had headed at goal from just six yards out.
The Frenchman reached out his hand and somehow managed to deny the Portugal international.
Nine points from nine for the Hammers.