Thursday, 4th August 2016
And Slaven Bilic's side marked the occasion fittingly, securing passage to the Europa League play-offs with a comfortable 3-0 win over Slovenian PrvaLiga outfit NK Domzale.
The stadium, (nearly) fully clad in claret and blue was a sight to see upon approach and was given an overwhelming seal of approval by supporters, many of whom were taking their first glimpse of the arena.
A packed house of some 54,000 had to wait just eight minutes to see Cheikhou Kouyate book his place in the annals of Hammers history when he back-heeled Sam Byram's low centre over the line.
That goal proved to be pivotal, for it not only gave West Ham the advantage in the tie - on away goals, courtesy of Mark Noble's penalty in the first leg, a 2-1 defeat - but it gave Bilic's side the impetus to take the game to their opponents.
For that they were rewarded midway through the half when Kouyate added his second of the night; Michail Antonio's deep cross was nodded into the path of the Senegal international, who stroked it beyond Domzale 'keeper Maraval.
The visitors had posed little threat to West Ham but still required only one goal at that stage to take the game into extra time. Darren Randolph, in for regular #1 Adrian was forced into action once or twice as the game wore on but was never genuinely threatened.
So with the game entering its final ten minutes it was left to new signing Sofiane Feghouli to wrap up the win with a well-taken drive, the result of a superb through ball from Mark Noble. Take note, Big Sam...
For West Ham, a place in the next round awaits; their opponents will be determined in Friday's draw. Their possible opponents are as follows, ties will take place on 18 and 25 August.
Rosenborg (NOR); Astana (KAZ); Astra Giurgiu (ROU); Hajduk Split (CRO); Arouca (POR); Grasshopper (SUI); AEK Larnaca (CYP); Vojvodina (SRB); Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR); Brondby (DEN); Red Star Belgrade (SRB); Osmanlispor (TUR); Slavia Prague (CZE); IFK Goteborg (SWE); Dinamo Tiblisi (GEO); Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO); AS Trencin (SRB); Gabala (AZE); Beitar Jerusalem (ISR); SonderjyskE (DEN); Shkendija Tetovo (MAC); Partizani Tirana (ALB).
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Rarely called into action but more than capable when asked to do so. A nice easy start to the season for one of the RoI's Euro 16 heroes.
Looked accomplished at full back tonight, as he had very little defending to do. Sterner tests will follow for Antonio, as will the inevitable qeustions regarding his suitability for the role.
Sam endured a torried time in the first leg so it was pleasing to see him put in a solid performance tonight in an unfamiliar position.
Calm, assured and willing to put the boot in when required - just what you want from a centre half.
Another youngster to shine on the big night. The Ox was an able partner to the more experienced Reid but also capable of turning defence into attack with some delightful flighted dellveries.
Another player making his debut, the Norwegian had a fairly quiet first half but came alive in the second. He also showed some lovely footwork as the game reached its closing stages; another impressive start.
A classy performance from a very important player. Payet and Noble drew the plaudits last season but it was Kouyate that kept the midfield ticking over. Tonight he takes the acclaim for two goals that steered West Ham into the next round of the competition.
Solid and combative as per usual, his most notable contribution was the superb delivery for Feghouli's goal. Should be a shoo-in for Allarduce's next squad, at this rate.
The big man put himself about well and played an important role in both of Kouyate's goals. He still seems a little of the pace, thought that's not unusual at this stage of the season.
An impressive start for the winger, who may well have taken the Man of the Match award were it not for Kouyate's two-goal haul. He ran at Domzale's defence all night and was finally rewarded with a goal that sealed the win.
Whilst you can certainly question the ability, there can be no doubt that Valencia gave 100 per cent for West Ham tonight - the sort of attitude his former striker partner would do well to take note of.
Long linked with a move away from the club but given a positive reception upon his introduction by the crowd. Another who seems determined to work through his difficulties.
A nice little two-minute caneo to introduce him to the West Ham family.
See above, just for half the time...
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Referee: Fredy Fautrel.
Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.
West Ham United
Darren Randolph, Michail Antonio, Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, Havard Nordtveit, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Cheikhou Kouyate 8 Cheikhou Kouyate 22 Sofiane Feghouli 81 .
Booked: Michail Antonio Sofiane Feghouli Enner Valencia .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Marava, Brachi, Dobrovoljc, Horic, Balkovec, Morel, Horvat, Majer, Crnic, Alvir, Mance.
Substitutes: Husmani (Horvat 62), Juninho (Majer 77), Brantanovic (Mance 68).
Subs not used: Milic, Vetrih, Repas, Blazic.
Booked: Crnic, Balkovec, Horic.
Sent Off: None sent off..