Reggae Boy Antonio helps Hammers get off the mark
In this file photo, West Ham United attacker Michail Antonio (right) prepares to kick the ball under pressure from Sevilla FC defender Jules Kounde during the UEFA Europa League round-of-16 first-leg football match at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (*Photo: AFP)

LONDON, England (CMC) — Reggae Boy Michail Antonio came off the bench to open his account for the season and round out the scoring as West Ham United beat Danish side Viborg 3-1 in their Europa Conference League play-off first leg on Thursday night.

Italy forward Gianluca Scamacca, a £30.5-million (US$36.3-million) signing from Sassuolo, was handed his first start and took just 24 minutes to make an impact at London Stadium, heading home following neat play on the left from Ivorian Maxwel Cornet, a fellow new arrival.

It paved the way for the hosts to record a first victory this season, having lost their opening two Premier League games against Manchester City and Nottingham Forest without scoring a goal.

Jarrod Bowen rifled a second into the bottom corner from outside the box with 26 minutes to go, but the visitors hit back five minutes later through Jakob Bonde's header.

That threatened to make it a nervy finish for the Hammers until Said Benrahma and fellow second-half substitute Antonio combined, the 32-year-old Jamaican international tapping a left-footer into an empty net on 78 minutes to secure a handy advantage going into the second leg.

That game will take place in Viborg next Thursday, with the winners joining the group stage of the competition when it begins on September 8.

West Ham manager David Moyes, serving a one-match touchline ban after kicking the ball at a ballboy during the Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt last season, made seven changes to the side that lost to Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

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