FAR FROM pitch perfect, but West Ham’s winning start in the Europa Conference League continues.
Boss David Moyes used the pre-match press conference to voice his concerns over the state of the plastic turf, suggesting any top player would think twice about gracing it.
Michail Antonio summed up his views on it, donning AstroTurf trainers in the warm-up.
Those worries briefly came to fruition away in Denmark as Silkeborg took a shock sixth-minute lead through Kasper Kusk’s side-footer.
But just like they did in their opening group stage victory at home to Romania’s FCSB last week, the Hammers levelled the scores from the spot thanks to Manuel Lanzini.
By the 25th minute, the lightning-quick comeback was complete thanks to Gianluca Scamacca’s scorching thump into the top corner.
And seven minutes before the break, Craig Dawson – on his first competitive start since May 22 after a pre-season thigh strain – added a third with a near-post header from a corner.
Silkeborg grabbed one back in the 75th minute on a breakaway counter through Soren Tengstedt – but ultimately fell flat in their search for an equaliser.
Another three goals, another three points in the bag and the knock-outs edge closer in speedy fashion for West Ham – just like when they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last year.
Yet Moyes will just be relieved to escape the Nordic region with all of his players still intact after a chastening experience on the slickest and most unforgiving of pitches.
Dawson and Aaron Cresswell made their returns from injury, while Scamacca, Maxwel Cornet and Lucas Paqueta all started in a strong attacking line-up.
Most read in Football
Silkeborg did their best to make the fake grass as quick as possible by drenching it with the sprinklers before kick-off, and it had the desired effect against their hesitant opponents.
Lukas Engel pulled a cross back to Kusk just inside the box and his first-time curled effort into the bottom corner left Alphonse Areola rooted.
The hosts went close to doubling their lead before West Ham got a slice of luck in the 13th minute with a dodgy penalty call as Cornet fell to the floor after a tug from Tobias Salquist.
Moyes would have been happy VAR was unavailable for that one as Lanzini slotted home from 12 yards – despite slipping before making contact with the ball.
Silkeborg continued to pepper Areola’s goal with shots until Cornet won the ball high up the pitch, fed Scamacca and watched him rifle an effort from range past Nicolai Larsen.
The rub of the green was not with the Danes as ex-Aston Villa striker Nicklas Helenius had a headed goal from a corner ruled out for an alleged push.
And in the 38th minute, Dawson rose highest in similar fashion to add salt to the wounds.
The third goal took the wind out of Silkeborg’s sails as West Ham drifted comfortably in the second half, with Paqueta, Scamacca and Declan Rice all taken off on the hour mark.
But from their own corner, the visitors were done on the counter, giving the Danish outfit a sniff – and sub Tonni Adamsen then almost produced late drama but for a solid Areola stop.