Stuck in the Premier League’s lower reaches and at risk of being cut adrift from the European race, the hosts came into this encounter desperate to atone for a string of disappointing league results.
David Moyes’ side sought revenge after losing 2-1 in the reverse fixture in Piraeus last time out, which blew Group A wide open, leaving the top-three sides within a two-point distance ahead of the kick-off.
But while West Ham’s performance in Greece fell well below fans’ expectations, the Hammers enjoyed a bright start to the game at the London Stadium.
Underperforming forward Said Benrahma put Olympiacos goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis to the test in the 13th minute. After a well-crafted move in the build-up, the Algerian forced the Greek keeper’s diving save.
Nayef Aguerd came close to breaking the deadlock from the resulting corner, but Paschalakis was up to the task again, thwarting the Moroccan’s header with a comfortable save.
Despite being in far better shape in the opening half an hour, West Ham had nothing but Benrahma’s attempt from the edge of the box to show for it, often drawing jeers from the impatient home crowd.
Supporters’ frustration was barely surprising after the Irons lost four of their five competitive matches in the lead-up to this fixture, including a 3-2 defeat at Brentford over the weekend.
Benrahma gave the London faithful something to cheer about just after the half-hour mark as he dribbled past two of his markers before unleashing a shot towards the bottom corner.
Paschalakis came down quickly to deflect the ball for another West Ham corner. Indeed, James Ward-Prowse was busy in the first half, taking four corner kicks, all of which created havoc in the Olympiacos box.
However, none led to a goal as Moyes’ side went into half-time seemingly frustrated after failing to get a reward for a decent first-half performance, which included nine shots, three of which were on target.
Olympiacos stepped up at the start of the second half, displaying far more ambition to threaten Lukasz Fabianski’s goal than in the first half, but to no avail. Chances were at a premium.
West Ham needed some time to rediscover their footing. But once they did, the Greek giants were on the back foot again.
Jarrod Bowen played a delightful cut-back into Ward-Prowse’s stride. The English midfielder latched onto the ball on the edge of the box, directing it straight into Paschalakis’ safe pair of gloves.
It was only a matter of time before the home side took a well-deserved lead. Ward-Prowse could pick up an assist from set-piece situations but grabbed one from open play.
He chipped the ball over the top for Lucas Paqueta, who smashed it into the bottom corner, leaving Paschalakis without a chance. The linesman’s flag was up, but VAR overturned the initial call.
Soon after going 1-0 up, West Ham could’ve doubled their lead as Konstantinos Mavropanos failed to hit the target from point-blank after another superb cross from Ward-Prowse.
Moyes’ side almost paid dearly for all missed chances as Mady Camara was unmarked at the back post but could only hit the woodwork from barely a couple of yards out.
West Ham United
Lukasz Fabianski (7/10) – Olympiacos failing to muster a shot on target gave him a slack on his return between the sticks.
Emerson Palmieri (7/10) – Demonstrated his attacking potential with several mazy runs down the left flank, especially in the first half.
Konstantinos Mavropanos (8/10) – Showed mental fortitude with a top-class defensive display days after scoring an unfortunate own goal against Brentford.
Nayer Aguerd (8/10) – An air force to be reckoned with in both penalty areas, the injury-prone centre-back did his defensive job to a tee and was unlucky not to score.
Vladimir Coufal (6/10) – Did well defensively but was nowhere to be seen in the front third.
Said Benrahma (7/10) – Olympiacos couldn’t live with him in the first half. Unlucky to face the inspired Paschalakis. Otherwise could’ve scored at least once before the break.
Edson Alvarez (6/10) – Picked up an early booking for a tactical foul, though he could’ve avoided that. Brimmed with insecurity, as every touch with the ball was on the edge of mistake.
James Ward-Prowse (9/10) *MOTM* – Virtually every set-piece delivery was on the money. Registered an assist from open play for a change with a top-notch lofted pass.
Lucas Paqueta (7/10) – Entrusted with playmaking duties, the Brazilian couldn’t do anything noteworthy apart from annoying fans by holding the ball way too long. Set things right with a phenomenal finish.
Jarrod Bowen (4/10) – Completely cut off from the rest of the pack, the quicksilver forward was often frustrated with a lack of service.
Mohammed Kudus (5/10) – Wayward could be the most accurate description of the youngster’s performance this evening. Indecisiveness led to losing possession every time he got the ball.
Tomas Soucek (6/10)
Maxwel Cornet (5/10)
Divin Mubama (NA/10)
Alexandros Paschalakis (8/10) – His confidence skyrocketed after a superb start to the game.
Rodinei (6/10) – Struggled to defend in one-v-ones against Benrahma. The Algerian winger’s attacking presence kept him pinned to his opening third the entire game.
Jackson Porozo (8/10) – Looked eminently comfortable, even though West Ham kept him under constant pressure. Dealt with Mohammed Kudus’ pace surprisingly well.
Panagiotis Retsos (7/10) – Despite getting away with some sloppy reactions, the ex-Bayer Leverkusen defender had a decent night in London
Francisco Ortega (6/10) – Defending against Bowen can be tricky, but he made it look like an ordinary task, which inevitably derailed his attacking presence. Playing Paqueta onside tainted his image.
Santiago Hezze (4/10) – Anyonimous could be an understatement.
Mady Camara (6/10) – Wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to stop West Ham attacks. Uneventful with the ball at his feet and squandered a glorious chance to level the score.
Sotiris Alexandropoulos (5/10) – Made poor choices when he should’ve done better, denying Olympiacos several decent half-chances to hurt West Ham on the counter.
Daniel Podence (6/10) – Came closest to finding the net amongst Olympiacos players in the first but couldn’t steer a technically demanding half-volley on target.
Stevan Jovetic (5/10) – Apart from drawing several cheap fouls, the veteran forward was a marginal figure tonight.
Kostas Fortounis (5/10) – Following a match-winning performance in the first leg, the Olympiacos captain was up the creek without a paddle tonight.
Ayoub El Kaabi (4/10)
Gustavo Scarpa (6/10)
Georgios Masouras (4/10)
Pep Biel (NA/10)
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