With empty stands and a win over the years, it might not be a win that lasts too long in memory – but the win here marks an important night for West Ham.
The Hammers are in the hat for the Europa League round of 16 after making the group stage far too easy for beginners. Imagine saying that 18 months ago.
David Moyes has consistently said this team is learning on the job in Europe this season, the club’s first foray into this level of competition. They quickly learn this evidence.
With only Dinamo Zagreb to play in Group H, West Ham have won four, drawn and only conceded two.
There were eight changes from Saturday’s loss to Wolves, but Moyes called on a lot of European experience with Alphonse Areola, Yarmolenko and Czech duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal.
Moyes set high standards, however, and was on all of them after a slow start.
Jarrod Bowen should have opened the scoring early on when he pushed a cross from Arthur Masuaku right next to it, but other than that there wasn’t much in the first half hour.
Things started to move before the break and after a sloppy start on the right wing Yarmolenko made his mark.
Nikola Vlasic, looking to make his point, scored a cross at the far post where Yarmolenko stood up to nod his head back.
Moments later, the Ukraine international stirred things up again, stumbling into the box to win a penalty which Noble converted to score his first real European goal and cap off a fine performance in midfield.
The fact that Moyes was able to give 17-year-old Sonny Perkins his West Ham debut in the second half speaks volumes. The only downside to the evening was that there was so little here to celebrate it.
West Ham fans had already been banned by UEFA before Austria was put back into lockdown and the game was played behind closed doors. But the party continues and in the knockouts now.
West Ham may have had a favorable draw, but they’ve done such a light job with this group. Moyes wanted European football after Christmas and that’s exactly what he has.