West Ham 3-0 Lusitanos: Hammers kick off Europa League qualifying with easy victory

first_img1 West Ham celebrate Diafra Sakho’s goal West Ham began their first European campaign for nine years with a straightforward 3-0 victory over Andorra minnows Lusitanos.The Hammers, who made the Europa League qualifying first-round tie having topped the Fair Play Table last season, entertained the packed, 35,000-strong Upton Park crowd, with manager Slaven Bilic in the stands.Top frontman Diafra Sakho – who scored 12 goals in 26 games last term – netted a cool first-half brace with James Tomkins adding a third after the break to put the hosts in control ahead of their second leg trip to the tiny principality on 9 July.It’s a long road to a potential group stage spot, though – if they do see off Lusitanos over the two legs, they’ll face another two qualifying clashes before a final play-off to enter the competition proper.With academy manager Terry Westley in charge, West Ham named a youthful side, with 16-year-old Reece Oxford – the England Under-17 captain – becoming West Ham’s youngest ever player as he started alongside Diego Poyet, 20, in midfield.New goalkeeper Darren Randolph was also in action but it was a quiet debut for the former Birmingham man, as the visitors fired just two shots at goal in the 90 minutes – with none hitting the target.It was a sluggish start from the Hammers, with Oxford forcing the Lusitanos goalkeeper into the first save of the night with a tame header on 12 minutes.Sakho should have broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark after a smart Diego Poyet – son of former Sunderland manager Gus – pass allowed Amalfitano to stand up a cross for the Senegal forward – who could only head over from close range.But the striker made no mistake when presented with a similar chance ten minutes later, nodding home Zarate’s cross after some smart work by the tricky Argentine.And the Senegal international swept home his second on the stroke of half-time, this time taking up a position in the box to convert Zarate’s low crossThe second half started in a similar pattern to the first and again it was Oxford who came close to scoring, this time with a rasping long-range drive which flew just wide.Tomkins nodded home a third soon afterwards, steering a header into the net after smart work by Jarvis, with Sakho making way soon after as Elliot Lee was introduced.Further changes from both sides fragmented play in the closing stages, with academy product Josh Cullen rattling the crossbar with a dipping effort in stoppage time.last_img read more