LONDON (AFP) – West Ham edged towards the Europa League knockout stage despite Tomas Soucek’s own goal costing them victory in a 2-2 draw at Genk on Thursday (Nov 4) as Rangers were also held 1-1 by Brondby.
The Hammers are on the brink of guaranteeing top spot in Group H which will book their place in the last 16, but needed Said Benrahma to score twice in Belgium to preserve their unbeaten record in Europe.
In the 1,000th game of his managerial career, David Moyes took the opportunity to rest a number of his key players ahead of Liverpool’s visit to the London Stadium on Sunday and paid the price with a slow start as Joseph Paintsil opened the scoring for Genk after just four minutes.
Two of West Ham’s regulars Michail Antonio and Declan Rice came close to equalising before half-time.
But it was not until the introduction of Soucek, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen after the break that they turned the game around.
Benrahma rounded off a brilliant team move to equalise before using his individual skill to wriggle free of the Genk defence and fire powerfully in at the near post.
However, the visitors dropped points for the first time in the group when Soucek’s diving header flew into his own net three minutes from time.
West Ham’s place in the knockout stages will be confirmed later on Thursday if there is a winner in the clash between Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna.
Rangers still have plenty of work to do to reach the last 32 after coming from behind to claim a point in Copenhagen.
Leon Balogun’s own goal in first-half stoppage time gave Steven Gerrard’s men a mountain to climb.
The Scottish champions improved after the break and substitutes Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi combined for the equaliser as the Romanian fired into the far corner 14 minutes from time.
Lyon guaranteed top spot in Group A with a 3-0 win over Sparta Prague.
Sparta and Rangers are level on four points, but the Czechs have the advantage on head-to-head record ahead of the meeting between the sides at Ibrox on November 25.
Serie A leaders Napoli came from a goal down to thrash Legia Warsaw 4-1 in Poland to go top of a tightly contested Group C.
Leicester can join the Italians on seven points if they beat Spartak Moscow later at the King Power.
Monaco maintain a two-point lead over La Liga leaders Real Sociedad after both games in Group B ended in draws.
Sociedad could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Sturm Graz to give PSV Eindhoven hope of qualifying as they drew 0-0 in the Principality.