It was mission accomplished for West Ham United as they progressed into the last 16 of European competition for the third successive season with a comfortable victory over their German UEFA Europa League contenders, SC Freiburg.

Both summer signings from Ajax gave the Hammers a double Dutch treat of a two-goal victory at London Stadium, where a 14th-minute opener from Mohammed Kudus was followed by a first-ever strike in claret and blue by Edson Álvarez just before the break.

With qualification into February’s play-off round already assured, regardless, David Moyes’ men brought the curtain down on their epic 2023 European extravaganza by cementing top spot in Group A that now guarantees them a seeded berth in the last 16 come March.

Back in early October, with the travelling fans serving UEFA’s one-match terrace ban, out on the pitch West Ham had silenced Freiburg’s fanbase in the sold-out Stadion am Wolfswinkel with their 2-1 victory over the Germans.

That win had also seen the Hammers create a British record of 17 matches unbeaten in European competition and, crucially, it also gave them head-to-head advantage over the side presently sitting in eighth spot in their domestic Bundesliga.

Following Sunday’s calamitous Craven Cottage capitulation at the hands of an on-fire, five-goal Fulham outfit, Moyes made a trio of changes as Álvarez, Emerson and Konstantinos Mavropanos came in for substitutes Pablo Fornals, Aaron Cresswell and Kurt Zouma.

And although Freiburg showed their early intent by forcing a corner that was headed wide by Nicolas Höfler in the opening 60 seconds, only the woodwork denied Lucas Paquetá from giving West Ham a fifth-minute lead when his rising 18-yarder splintered Noah Atubolu’s crossbar.

On Saturday, Freiburg had triumphed 1-0 at VFL Wolfsburg and, indeed, boosted by a hat-trick of victories in their last three matches in all competitions, they arrived in the East End knowing that they needed to both score at least two goals on the night and win if they were to have any chance of leapfrogging Group A leaders West Ham and send them spiralling into the knockout round, instead.

But having seen the goal-frame come to their early rescue, the visitors were not then so fortunate on 13 minutes when Álvarez expertly chipped the ball forward towards the 18-yard line from the edge of the centre circle and, ghosting behind his markers, Kudus cleverly chested down before clipping an angled left-footed shot across the face of the helplessly-exposed Atubolu.

It was a goal crafted on the training fields of Amsterdam but with a possible hint of handball in bringing his former Ajax team-mate’s pass under control, there was an anxious wait for the Ghanaian international before the Video Assistant Referee gave the all-clear to his seventh strike since his £38million signing from the Dutch giants.

Midway through the half, though, Jarrod Bowen was not as lucky when Paquetá sent him clear in a carbon copy Hammers attack but this time an offside flag backed up by video evidence ruled West Ham’s No.20 had, indeed, set off a split-second too soon.

Five minutes before the break, Łukasz Fabiański was called upon to make his first meaningful contribution of the evening with a low save from Ritsu Doan’s low angled 15-yarder but that proved mere token resistance to a Hammers side determined to retain top spot.

Having made that opener for Kudus, Álvarez then helped himself to a goal of his own on 42 minutes, when he collected from Paquetá ahead of playing an intricate one-two with Bowen on the edge of the Freiburg penalty area and advancing forward, riding the sliding lunge of Matthias Ginter and drilling an angled 10-yarder past the well-beaten Atubolu.

While Moyes' boys now had a firm foot in that last 16, that second Hammers goal certainly made the half-time team-talk so much harder for Christian Streich, who brought on Merlin Röhl for Roland Sallai.

Down but not downhearted the vociferous white-shirted travelling supporters continued to bounce up and down in the visitors’ section hoping for some magic from the newly introduced substitute, who wasted no time unleashing a low, angled shot that Fabiański got down to save at full stretch.

At the other end, Bowen somehow skied over from a couple of yards, while Kudus curled just inches wide before Álvarez – job done and just one booking from a costly suspension in the knock-out stages – retired for the evening as Fornals stepped from the bench.

A flurry of substitutions followed for both sides as Moyes – bringing on Danny Ings and Divin Mubama for Paquetá and Bowen - sought to rest weary legs ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Wolves (2pm) while Streich ended up changing half of his outfield starting line-up in a futile Freiburg bid to find any feint hope of getting back into the contest.

That though was always going to be an impossible ask and, while the Germans go into Monday’s draw for those knock-out stages in mid-February, the Hammers can now lock their passports away until early March.

West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal (Kehrer 88), Emerson, Aguerd, Mavropanos, Álvarez (Fornals 64), Ward-Prowse, Souček, Paquetá (Mubama 72), Kudus (Cornet 88), Bowen (Ings 72). Unused subs: Areola, Johnson, Cresswell, Zouma, Ogbonna, Benrahma, Coventry.

SC Freiburg: Atubolu, Sildillia, Makengo (Kübler 74), Ginter, Gulde, Höfler, Eggestein (Höler 56), Doan, Grifo (Weißhaupt 68), Sallai (Röhl 46), Gregoritsch (Amadu 56). Unused subs: Müller, Jantunen, Rüdlin, Baur.

Referee: João Pinheiro (Portugal).