Football News

West Ham 3-1 Backa Toppola: Ward-Prowse and Kudus star in Hammers turnaround victory

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:20, 21 September 2023

James Ward-Prowse and Mohammed Kudus combined to give West Ham a Europa League comeback win over Backa Toppola.

David Moyes’ side trailed before netting three goals across 16 second-half minutes to round off a 3-1 success.

It’s becoming a habit as they’ve come back to win their last three European matches when trailing at halftime, doing so on two occasions last season on route to being crowned European Conference League champions.

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With last season’s triumph fresh in the mind, the Hammers unexpectedly found themselves behind against competition debutants TSC, but it was a self-inflicted wound.

Early into the second half skipper Angelo Ogbonna didn’t know whether to go back to his goalkeeper and instead ended up slipping trying to bring down Petar Stanic who finished cooly.

Žarko Lazetić’s visitors’ lead barely lasted 20 minutes when Nemanja Petrovic inadvertently put the ball into his own net before Ward-Prowse created a pair of goals.

Kudus and Tomás Soucek were the beneficiaries of his well-delivered corners. Delving back into his Ajax days, Kudus has now been directly involved in eight goals (six goals and two assists) in his last nine matches in European competition.

The 11-time capped England international subsequently moved onto five assists in a Hammers jersey across five appearances. In fact, he’s either scored (two) or assisted (five) in each of his first five matches in all competitions for West Ham, with no Premier League player assisting more often in 2023/24 than the Englishman (Lucas Digne also five).

Both JWP and Kudus arrived this summer from Southampton and Ajax, respectively, but until now the multifunctional Ghanian attacker had briefly featured against Manchester City and Luton Town before lining up for David Moyes’ side for the very first time.

Kudus ended the contest with the most shots (four), successful take-ons (four) and duels won (11). Only the aforementioned Ward-Prowse (seven) and Saïd Benrahma (four) created more chances than him (three).

“I think we want to go from the first minute of the first game and control it. The winning mentality from the team was all good. We did what the coach told us and we got the result,” he told TNT Sports.

“We dominated the game in the first half but weren’t able to score. For me, I think we knew what we were doing, whether we were down or up. We kept the same mentality, we do what we do best and the result comes after.

“I am here to help the team and as you can see today we got the three points. It feels like I’ve been here for a long time already, everybody has made me feel like part of the family. I just do what the coach tells me. The most important thing is we’re winning.”