West Ham United played in their first-ever Europa League knockout tie against six-time competition winners Sevilla on Thursday night, and David Moyes will have been very encouraged by his side’s display at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
Indeed, while the La Liga giants eventually ran out 1-0 winners thanks to something of a wondergoal from Munir El Haddadi, the Hammers more than proved that this is now a level of football where they well and truly belong.
It is true that Sevilla generally had a greater attacking impetus over the course of the 90 minutes, but the Irons did have their own big chances. Manuel Lanzini fired a shot from the edge of the box well wide of the mark in the second half, Nikola Vlasic missed easily their biggest chance of the match in aiming his point-blank header straight at Bono, and Lanzini again saw what looked to be a sure-fire equaliser brilliantly blocked by Jesus Navas.
However, despite the valiant display in Spain, and the tie being far from beyond West Ham, the likes of Lanzini, Vlasic and Pablo Fornals will undoubtedly need to up their game should the east London outfit wish to give themselves the best chance of progression at the London Stadium next week.
On the face of it, Lanzini’s statistics from the match are not too disappointing, with the attacking midfielder enjoying 82 touches of the ball, completing 63 of his 70 attempted passes, having two shots at the Sevilla goal and making one interception as well as three tackles.
However, the £69k-per-week Argentina international was too often weak when in possession, losing nine of his 12 duels – a failure rate of 75% – as he was bullied by both Oliver Torres and Joan Jordan in the Sevilla midfield.
The £12.5m-rated magician was also uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball at his feet, ceding possession on 12 separate occasions, being beaten by an opponent twice and committing three needless fouls.
As mentioned previously, the 29-year-old also could have done better with his opportunities in the final third – particularly his rushed effort from the edge of the box, which the midfielder dragged a good three metres wide of Bono’s goal.
As such, while Vlasic will undoubtedly be ruing his missed first-half sitter which would have given the Hammers an early lead, Lanzini will also want to put his performance behind him as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the midfield maestro failed his manager against Julen Lopetegui’s side.