It finally proved to be a happy St Andrew’s Day for West Ham United boss David Moyes at the TSC Arena, last night.

But until last-gasp, goal-getter Tomáš Souček finally sunk FK TSC Bačka Topola with just a minute to spare, the Hammers' UEFA Europa League tie had looked like ending in a sorry Serbian stalemate.

“I thought it was heading towards finishing in a draw,” said Moyes after seeing his side eventually overcome the team languishing at the bottom of Group A to secure their place in the knockout stages. 


“We had to make a few changes – some were forced by illness and others were due to the fact that we were always going to try to give players some game-time before we go into the winter period, when I’m going to need all of them.

“We didn’t create too many opportunities of our own in the first half, while we gave them one or two early chances. But remember, they had a great result with their 4-0 win over Partisan Belgrade at the weekend.

“This result was probably unfair on Bačka Topola because they deserved a draw but that’s football. They came into the game with a lot of confidence but we seemed to gain more control after the break and then they didn’t create too much.

“We’ve been doing this for two years, though, and until recently, had gone unbeaten for 17 games and it’s good that we’ve got another win.

"Scoring late is always very important in football – we got two late goals at Burnley on Saturday and, as a manager, it’s good when you win late. Sometimes!”

Not only did the sure-shot Souček net a late decider in his third successive Hammers match but the 66-cap Czech Republic star had also netted twice for his nation during the recent international break, taking his tally to five goals in five games.

“Tomáš is in great form not only for us but for his country, too, and long may that continue,” added Moyes, who signed the midfielder from Slavia Prague in January 2020. 

“I’m really pleased for him because tonight, he’s gone and got another very important goal for us.

“He scored ten times during his first full season at West Ham and he’s already up to seven now so there’s a good chance of Tomáš reaching double figures again this year.”

Last night’s late victory now means that Moyes’ table-toppers go into Matchday Six knowing they only need a draw against second-placed SC Freiburg on December 14 in order to leapfrog straight into the last 16.

“Here at West Ham we’re thrilled that, once again, we’re going to be playing in Europe after Christmas for the third successive season,” said the 60-year-old Glaswegian, after taking charge of his 32nd Hammers match in Europe across 13 different countries in Serbia.

“It’s a tough group and, to be honest, I would’ve taken second place at the start of the season but now we obviously want to go on and finish top.

“Playing the last game to win Group A has become hugely important for us and we know that we’re going to have to play well because SC Freiburg are a good side.

"But we’ll have great support at London Stadium. It’ll certainly be a big night.”