West Ham secured their place in the Europa League last 16 with a win against Rapid Vienna in a match played behind closed doors in Austria.
Andriy Yarmolenko put the Hammers ahead just before half-time when he headed in at the back post from Nikola Vlasic’s cross.
Minutes later, Yarmolenko was fouled by Maximilian Hofmann and captain Mark Noble fired the resulting penalty into the top corner to double their lead.
David Moyes’ side are now guaranteed to win Group H with a game to spare.
The Hammers won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965 and lost in the 1976 final. Their run in this season’s Europa League is already their best performance in European competition since 1980-81.
Manager Moyes told BT Sport: “A really good, professional job, not just tonight, how we’ve done in the group and great credit to the whole squad. We’ve used them all and taken some risks at times, but overall it has worked.
“At the start of the tournament I was unsure how it would be. It was relatively new to the players, but they’ve done such a great job.
“We thoroughly deserve to win the group and are looking forward to European football in March – and don’t have to play in February which helps with the congestion.”
‘Players have come a long way’
The Hammers were already guaranteed a top-two spot after collecting 10 points from their opening four matches, but this victory ensured they would finish top.
That means they avoid the qualifying round play-off in February – when the eight Europa League group runners-up face the teams that finish third in their Champions League groups – and move straight into the following phase, the last 16, in March.
There was an eerie atmosphere at the Allianz Stadion, which can host more than 28,000 people.
Increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in Austria forced the game to be held behind closed doors, although West Ham fans had already been banned from attending following crowd trouble in the away game versus Belgian side Genk.
It was a far cry from the Hammers’ 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna at a packed London Stadium in September – in West Ham’s first-ever home Europa League group game.
Nevertheless, manager Moyes would still have been delighted with the professional performance from his team after making eight changes from the side that began the 1-0 loss to Wolves on Saturday.
Jarrod Bowen, starting up front with Michail Antonio rested, had a good chance to open the scoring but slid an effort just wide after Arthur Masuaku’s excellent low cross from the left.
But the Hammers continued to dominate possession and two goals at the end of the first half gave them deserved control of the game.
Bowen and Tomas Soucek both had efforts saved after the break with Rapid Vienna unable to test visiting goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
With qualification secured, 17-year-old striker Sonny Perkins, who played for England Under-18s earlier this month, was handed his Hammers debut with 13 minutes remaining.
Perkins nearly made an instant impact, but saw a powerful header tipped over by Paul Gartler.
West Ham, fourth in the Premier League, visit Manchester City on Sunday, and Moyes will be able to rest more players in their final Europa League group match, at home to Dinamo Zagreb on 9 December.
Moyes added: “We should’ve been in front before we did score, but there was no doubt we deserved to be in front and no doubt we deserved to win.
“It’s a good sign when we won, but I don’t think we played that well. The players that have come in have really done well. I really think the players have come a long way but there’s more to go.”I’ve tried to chop and change a little bit and keep everyone involved. We can play far better and need to do that in the games coming up. We can put this away and focus on the league now.”
West Ham United
- 5LjubicicSubstituted forGrahovacat 90+1′minutes
- 36AraseSubstituted forBalloat 75′minutes
- 8KnasmüllnerSubstituted forGrüllat 59′minutes
- 32KitagawaSubstituted forKaraat 59′minutes
- 9FountasSubstituted forStrunzat 90+1′minutes
- 26MasuakuSubstituted forFredericksat 78′minutes
- 28SoucekSubstituted forKrálat 65′minutes
- 10LanziniSubstituted forFornalsat 65′minutes
- 11VlasicSubstituted forPerkinsat 78′minutes
- 20BowenSubstituted forBenrahmaat 65′minutes
Match ends, Rapid Vienna 0, West Ham United 2.
Second Half ends, Rapid Vienna 0, West Ham United 2.
Attempt missed. Thierno Ballo (Rapid Vienna) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ercan Kara.
Substitution, Rapid Vienna. Oliver Strunz replaces Taxiarchis Fountas.
Substitution, Rapid Vienna. Srdjan Grahovac replaces Robert Ljubicic.
Attempt missed. Ercan Kara (Rapid Vienna) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Robert Ljubicic with a cross.
Offside, West Ham United. Saïd Benrahma tries a through ball, but Pablo Fornals is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Taxiarchis Fountas (Rapid Vienna) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Robert Ljubicic.
Attempt missed. Thierno Ballo (Rapid Vienna) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Dejan Petrovic.
Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Robert Ljubicic (Rapid Vienna).
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Paul Gartler.
Attempt saved. Sonny Perkins (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Vladimir Coufal with a cross.
Substitution, West Ham United. Sonny Perkins replaces Nikola Vlasic.
Substitution, West Ham United. Ryan Fredericks replaces Arthur Masuaku.
Attempt saved. Dejan Petrovic (Rapid Vienna) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Robert Ljubicic.
Substitution, Rapid Vienna. Thierno Ballo replaces Kelvin Arase.
Offside, Rapid Vienna. Robert Ljubicic tries a through ball, but Kelvin Arase is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Robert Ljubicic (Rapid Vienna) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Taxiarchis Fountas.
Attempt missed. Saïd Benrahma (West Ham United) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Vladimir Coufal.