Advertisement

West Ham 5-0 Freiburg: Mohammed Kudus scores twice as Hammers cruise to Europa League quarter-finals

Mohammed Kudus scoring for West Ham

West Ham recorded the biggest European win in their history as they swept aside Freiburg to overturn a first-leg deficit and march into a third successive quarter-final.

Before the match David Moyes evoked the memories of their comeback win against Sevilla at the same stage of the competition two seasons ago - and this time the Hammers boss got a similar outcome.

Yet unlike that night against the Spaniards, when the home fans were tortured by tension and did not seal victory until extra-time, West Ham had the job wrapped up within an hour against a poor Freiburg side.

Lucas Paqueta pulled them level in the tie after just nine minutes as he slid in unmarked to turn home Tomas Soucek's near-post flick from barely a yard.

Jarrod Bowen continued his excellent season with his 18th strike of the campaign just after the half hour to put West Ham ahead on aggregate.

Veteran defender Aaron Cresswell then scored his first goal in almost two years as the visiting defence allowed him too much space to shoot.

The contest was finished but there was still time for Mohammed Kudus to make an impact as the Ghanaian scored twice in the final 15 minutes as West Ham completed their biggest win since Moyes returned to the club in December 2019.

They have now recorded an impressive 26 European victories in their trio of campaigns under Moyes. Before this run, they had achieved 25 in their history, including in the Intertoto Cup.

They will discover their quarter-final opponents on Friday lunchtime.

Bowen presses England claims

Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring for West Ham
Jarrod Bowen has scored 18 goals in 36 appearances for West Ham this season, equalling his most in a campaign for the Hammers in 15 fewer appearances (18 in 51 games in 2021-22)

On what was a bad day for one England hopeful as Kalvin Phillips, who was left out of Gareth Southgate's squad and then David Moyes' starting line-up within the space of three hours, Bowen continued to put together what is starting to look like an undeniable case for a place at Euro 2024.

Bowen did not go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a pre-tournament form slump that continued when the Premier League season re-started. However, 2022-23 ended in jubilation as he scored the late winner in the Europa Conference League final that qualified his club for a third successive European campaign.

Remarkably, his first-half goal was his first in Europe this season.

Moved into a wide role to accommodate the return of Michail Antonio, Bowen had the presence of mind to run across the area, shrugging one defender to the ground in the process, before driving a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

It was the kind of moment he has produced so many times this season and, given he has excelled in a central attacking role as well, it is tough to see how Southgate can exclude him from the party he takes to Germany.

Bowen is more than just a goalscorer. The former Hull City player's work ethic is phenomenal and he is also unselfish.

It was the 27-year-old who provided the assist that allowed Cresswell to take a touch before driving in his first goal since April 2022.

After getting sent off in the Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt two years ago and then spending the Europa Conference League final on the bench, 34-year-old Cresswell has more reason that most to want to make an impact this season.

Kudus has been an inconsistent presence this season but his late double was pure class.

His first was a driving run down the middle of the pitch that Freiburg were powerless to stop, as he beat two players and curled a shot home. His celebration, grabbing a plastic stool to sit on, was as memorable at the effort itself.

The second was a rocket, which Freiburg keeper Noah Atubolu had no chance of keeping out.

A good night for Moyes

West Ham manager David Moyes applauds the fans
West Ham have won their past 10 home matches in major European competition (excluding qualifiers)

This was one of those nights that make you wonder what the fuss is all about with Moyes and his future at West Ham.

The Scot was brave in his selection and, in Antonio, he provided Freiburg's defence with a threat they could not cope with.

Bowen and Kudus were excellent out wide and Paqueta floated into space and caused huge damage.

Moyes applauded all sides of the ground at the final whistle of a game the West Ham fans turned out in force for despite the early kick-off. Those same fans responded in kind.

It has not always been like this. The 4-2 win over Brentford three weeks ago ended an eight-match winless run including a 6-0 home loss to Arsenal, with a "Moyes Out" banner seen in the away end when the Hammers lost at Nottingham Forest

However, this was a night everyone enjoyed and the promise is of more still to come. That is bound to come into Moyes' thinking as he ponders his future at the end of the season.