Lucas Paqueta’s excellent finish 17 minutes from time gave West Ham victory in their Europa League encounter with Greek side Olympiakos to send them to the brink of the knockout stages.

Paqueta lit up what had been a largely drab contest at the London Stadium when he perfectly met James Ward-Prowse’s chipped cross into the penalty area and sent his volley into the corner.

Although the goal was initially ruled out for offside, the Brazilian put his hands together in prayer, which was rewarded when video assistant referee confirmed Paqueta had been onside as Ward-Prowse delivered the crucial pass.

The win, avenged West Ham’s loss to the same opponents in Athens a fortnight ago, which marked the end of an impressive 17-match unbeaten run for David Moyes’ side in Europe.

“It’s good to get back on track. Olympiakos are a seasoned European team and they showed that tonight,” said Hammers boss Moyes.

“We’re top of the group, we still have two matches to play but I think this is the hardest group we’ve had. Europe has been great for this football club, we’ve had some great nights and long may they continue.

“He [Lucas Paqueta] took the goal brilliantly tonight but there were lots of things I wanted him to do better. We’ve got room for improvement.”

The result means West Ham remain above German rivals Freiburg at the head of Group A based on their head-to-head record, knowing two points from their final two games will be enough to ensure Europa League action after Christmas.

Victory was not achieved without a late scare as Mady Camara hit the woodwork when he should have done better with a stooping header at the far post.

But it was a disappointing night for watching Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who will hope for better fortune on Sunday when his other club Nottingham Forest come here in the Premier League.

West Ham grind their way to victory

The eventual result was reward for Moyes’ adventurous team selection, although for a long time it looked like becoming West Ham’s first goalless draw since their stalemate at Burnley in December 2021.

The strength of the Hammers’ teamsheet just did not translate into dominance on the pitch.

There were brief periods in the first-half where the home side looked as though they were taking command but it never turned into anything substantial.

Said Benrahma came closest to breaking the deadlock when his well-struck effort was curling into the far corner before Alexandros Paschalakis turned it round the post.

From the corner Nayef Aguerd headed straight at the Olympiakos keeper.

Paschalakis denied Benrahma again with a low save after the Algerian had been picked out in the box by Paqueta. This time Aguerd was wide with his header from the corner.

Not that Olympiakos were particularly threatening.

Daniel Podence signed a new three-year contract with Wolves before he was loaned back to the Greek club in the summer. A return to Molineux has not been ruled out for Podence but Gary O’Neil will not be rushing him back on the evidence of the mishit shot he sent spinning well wide of the West Ham goal.

The second period produced more of the same until Jarrod Bowen sent a surge of energy through the stadium as he embarked on a couple of charging runs, the first of which should have resulted in a goal for Ward-Prowse.

It did not matter in the end, although, given the teams had returned to the centre circle before the VAR ruling was determined, it was odd that Paqueta chose to celebrate in front of the Olympiakos supporters.

Now, after collecting four points from seven games, West Ham need to address their league form.

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