David Moyes saluted his “maverick” forward Lucas Paqueta after the 2-1 Europa League win at Freiburg, even though he drives him mad.
Freiburg’s nickname is the Breisgau Brazilians due to their flamboyant style of play, but it was West Ham’s Samba star Paqueta who stole the show.
He put them ahead after only nine minutes with a towering header from a cross by Jarrod Bowen, celebrating his return to the England squad.
Our Brazilian Magnifico pic.twitter.com/plFwjWjIrr
— West Ham United (@WestHam) October 5, 2023
Paqueta then spent the rest of the evening tormenting the hosts with his array of flicks, tricks and occasional theatrics.
“It was a bit of an old-fashioned goal, down the side with a good cross, and then a great header like an old-fashioned centre forward. I really enjoyed watching it,” said Hammers boss Moyes.
“Jarrod played well but Lucas was terrific. He drives me mad sometimes but everybody who watched him would have said this player has got incredible talent.
“There is a word that goes around, a maverick. He is that for us.
“It is really important we get him in and adapt to him and accept some of his things he may not do, things which I would say are conventional.
“But we are really enjoying him at the moment and he is terrific at taking the ball under pressure – but also there are moments when I say: ‘what are you doing’?”
The match may have taken place on the edge of the Black Forest, but it was never going to be a piece of cake for the Hammers against a side eighth in the Bundesliga.
They were also up against 34,000 noisy fans, with no away supporters allowed to attend following incidents during West Ham’s Europa Conference League final triumph in June.
Freiburg equalised after half-time through Roland Sallai, but Nayef Aguerd’s header from a James Ward-Prowse corner made it two wins from two in Group A and a 17th match undefeated in Europe, a record for an English club.
“It’s a brilliant achievement, I’ve said to the boys we need to keep it going. Winning the game tonight was most important,” added Moyes.
“I’m really pleased. We played very well especially, in the opening 20 or 30 minutes.
“They came back, which I expected. They got better and we had moments when we played very well but we mainly won the first half. We had to then be good defensively.”