Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen shoot West Ham past Anderlecht and take the KO place

Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen propelled West Ham into the Europa Conference League knockout stages with a 2-1 win over Anderlecht.

The Hammers, semi-finalists in last season’s Europa League, secured a second consecutive promotion to the final stages of the continental competition with a fourth win in four Group B games.

They now need just a point from their last two games against Danish club Silkeborg and Romanian FCSB to go straight into the last 16 as group winners and avoid a play-off in February.

However, some of the shine was taken away from their performance by crowd troubles that required riot police to intervene.

The hosts took the lead in the 13th minute when Anderlecht enforcer Amadou Diawara fouled Benrahma on the edge of the box.

Aaron Creswell had just rolled a free-kick over the goal but this time he stepped over the ball and let Benrahma whip his right-footed shot over the wall and into the near post.

The Hammers had their second after half an hour, Emerson Palmieri cantering down the left before pulling the ball back for Bowen to finish from 15 yards.

The goal made Bowen West Ham joint top scorer in Europe with six goals, alongside Johnny Byrne and David Cross.

He should have gone out on his own seven moments later when Creswell clipped the ball back, but the England hopeful missed his shot in front of goal.

Anderlecht, whose boisterous fans lit five flares at the end of the path, one of which landed near the pitch, threatened to spoil the party when Yari Verschaeren drilled just wide and Sebastiano Esposito saved Alphonse Areola with a fingertip.

But things were largely trouble-free for the hosts and Pablo Fornals, who came on for Lucas Paqueta at the break, should have netted a third only to see his shot blocked by Diawara at the six-yard line.

Bowen was rested by David Moyes after the hour, Gianluca Scamacca came on and the Italian almost converted a Fornals cross while Benrahma headed just wide of Vladimir Coufal’s centre.

It should have been an extremely comfortable night for West Ham, although the scenes in the stands were depressingly uncomfortable.

A pitch intruder briefly halted play before missiles were hurled between groups of rival fans, including another flare that landed in home end.

While the attention focused on the nonsense in the crowd, Anderlecht scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot after a foul by Ben Johnson by Esposito.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/jarrod-bowen-anderlecht-west-ham-europa-conference-league-europa-league-b2202483.html Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen shoot West Ham past Anderlecht and take the KO place

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