Said Benrahma was David Moyes’ unsung hero as Jesse Lingard scored a brace on his West Ham United debut to help his new side beat Aston Villa 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Moyes wasted no time in introducing the 24-cap England international into his starting line-up, with the decision returning the Hammers’ second and third goals against Dean Smith’s Villans after Tomas Soucek opened the scoring with his eighth strike of the league campaign.
After a scoreless first half, Soucek broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when the Czech Republic international drilled the ball into the far corner of Emiliano Martinez’s net following a piece of superb link-up play between Michail Antonio and Benrahma.
Lingard soon hit Moyes’ men’s second of the night to make the visitors’ pressure count after they’d been dominating play for long periods of the game, and he later restored West Ham’s two-goal lead after Ollie Watkins pulled one back for his ninth goal of the top-flight campaign.
But, despite Lingard rightly getting plenty of attention after netting a debut double, Benrahma also shone brightly at Villa Park having played a pivotal role in the Irons’ attacking moves throughout the night, to leave Birmingham with a third assist of the league season as his wait for a maiden goal continues.
Benrahma registered his assist with a precision first-time pass threaded through the Villans backline for Soucek to score, while his decoy run allowed Antonio to find Lingard open on the edge of the Aston Villa penalty area to score his first of the night five minutes later.
Benrahma’s threaded pass left Aston Villa’s backline helpless, with Tyrone Mings only able to watch the ball roll through to Soucek to score. The £23,000-per-week maestro could have ended the night with further assists in his pocket, too, after recording three key passes – only Jack Grealish (4) created more goalscoring opportunities on Wednesday night, per WhoScored.
Not only was Benrahma creative with the ball at his feet, but Moyes further saw the £20m winger prove safe in possession with a 93% pass accuracy rating thanks to completing 28 of his 30 passes. No player who stared for either side completed a higher percentage of their passes than the 25-year-old.
The Algerian additionally came close to finally ending his Premier League goal drought and would have done just that had his volley gone a few inches lower.
Moyes would surely have loved what he saw from Benrahma at Villa Park as he linked up well with Lingard, who slotted in seamlessly to West Ham’s starting line-up, as the London Stadium natives closed to within two points of Liverpool after Jurgen Klopp’s side fell to defeat at home to Brighton.