West Ham: Mohammed Kudus worth the wait as influential James Ward-Prowse continues to shine

Super star: Mohammed Kudus  (AP)
Super star: Mohammed Kudus (AP)

West Ham fans can stop lobbying now. Many were beginning to grow just a touch impatient to see Mohammed Kudus handed his first start, and his influence on last night's Europa League opener showed why.

Ghana's brightest talent joined with a £38million price tag as well as a reputation from his Ajax days for being a mercurial attacker so well-rounded that his best position remained a mystery.

As West Ham's third European campaign in as many years got under way, David Moyes trusted Kudus as a right-winger. On a night that went far from routinely for the hosts, Kudus's tireless runs and poacher's instinct proved the difference.

Serbian minnows Backa Topola offered a more limited test than Liverpool will on Sunday, but there were clear signs that Kudus's raw ability is transferable. He surely has to start at Anfield.

The 23-year-old made one incursive run through the opposition's entire midfield and back-line in a first half that was otherwise flat.

Then, two minutes after the interval, from a remarkable error by Angelo Ogbonna in which the Italian simply forgot the ball lay at his feet, Petar Stanic robbed him and ran through to slot calmly past Lukasz Fabianski.

The visitors' wild celebrations, in front of fewer than 60 travelling fans, told of their incredible journey. Just nine years ago they were a third-tier club, and now the side from a remote town 20 miles from the Hungarian border lead the Serbian SuperLiga after five straight wins.

West Ham cared little for their opponents' rapid rise, however, and were concerned only with extinguishing their shock lead.

Kudus's presence forced Nemanja Petrovic into an own goal, following excellent wing play down the left by Said Benrahma. Kudus wheeled away to celebrate and originally the goal went down as his. He would get his moment four minutes later.

James Ward-Prowse has scored or assisted in every game since his summer move to east London, and his wicked corner deliveries produced headed goals by Kudus and late substitute Tomas Soucek to turn the game on its head.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Soucek's aerial ability is well-known, but Kudus's powerful header was a goalscorer's goal. Such a clinical finish, coupled with his zestful all-round display, suggested West Ham may get from Kudus exactly what they hoped.

"He started really brightly and came up with an important goal when I couldn't really see where we would get one from," Moyes said.

While 25 days may feel a long time for a star signing to be handed a start, an international break did fall right in the middle of that. From their limited training time together, Kudus's new team-mates have been suitably impressed.

"We've only seen him for two or three weeks", said Soucek. "He has shown us how good he is, but today was his debut start. He scored, so it's perfect for him. I hope he will adapt even better."

Right-back Thilo Kehrer played behind Kudus last night, and added: "All the qualities he has, and the character he is, is really promising. He's a dangerous striker, so we all hope he goes on like this and keeps scoring."