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West Ham strike gold in maiden game at former Olympics venue

West Ham 3-0 NK Domzale

By Andy Sims

Published 05/08/2016

Home and hosed: Celebrations from players and fans alike following the Cheikhou Kouyate goal that put West Ham into an aggregate lead last night
Home and hosed: Celebrations from players and fans alike following the Cheikhou Kouyate goal that put West Ham into an aggregate lead last night

West Ham avoided a false start at the London Stadium with a 3-0 Europa League qualifying win over Slovenian minnows NK Domzale.

Cheikhou Kouyate scored twice and new signing Sofiane Feghouli opened his account as the Hammers, who left Upton Park at the end of last season, secured a 4-2 aggregate win to reach the play-offs for the group stages of the competition.

Four years to the day since Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford wowed the nation on Super Saturday at London 2012, the Olympic Stadium - now known as the London Stadium - finally welcomed its new tenants and West Ham could scarcely have wished for more obliging opposition as they overturned last week's shock 2-1 first-leg loss in Ljubljana.

The Hammers will officially open the ground with a glamour friendly against Juventus on Sunday, but required this dry-run after defeat in the final match of last season condemned them to a seventh-placed finish and into the third round of qualifying.

West Ham's new abode was a 54,000 sell-out despite not looking quite the finished product, with a hastily-laid mixture of astroturf and tarpaulin covering the athletics track.

The team needs a little fine-tuning as well, missing Euro 2016 stars Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins as well as the injured Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for the players to settle into their new surroundings, with Kouyate grabbing his slice of history with the first goal after just eight minutes.

A superb lofted pass from skipper Mark Noble sent Enner Valencia racing through, although he had to check his run to evade sliding right-back Alvaro Brachi.

Valencia cut the ball back to Sam Byram, who made a mess of his shot but the ball bobbled as far as Kouyate for a simple back-heel from six yards out

Kouyate grabbed the second, and edged West Ham ahead in the tie, in the 25th minute when Andy Carroll nodded down Michail Antonio's cross into his path for a neat, low finish.

After the break Feghouli headed narrowly wide before Valencia squandered a gilt-edged chance with a horribly sliced effort.

Domzale knew one goal would force extra time but they could only muster up a couple of forays into West Ham territory, with Benjamin Morel firing their best chance wide.

Instead, with nine minutes remaining, Algerian winger Feghouli raced onto Noble's pass and crashed in the killer third to prolong West Ham's European adventure and, more importantly, ensure a winning start at their new home.

A bizarre Graeme Shinnie own goal killed off 10-man Aberdeen's Europa League dream as they crashed to a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Maribor.

Belfast Telegraph

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