WEST Ham produced a devastating display of attacking football to claim a 4-0 win over local rivals Millwall in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup.

The hosts raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 15 minutes thanks to goals from Esmee de Graaf, Brianna Visalli and Rosie Kmita, before de Graaf wrapped up victory with her second late on.   

Dutch forward de Graaf tapped in from close range to open the scoring in the sixth minute at Rush Green, with Visalli’s superb volley doubling the lead for the hosts.

Then, just minutes later, Kmita latched onto Jane Ross’ saved effort and coolly slotted the ball home to give the home side a 3-0 lead inside 12 minutes. 

Visalli should have extended the hosts’ lead ahead of the break. The midfielder pounced onto a well-timed through ball to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but her effort crept agonisingly wide.

De Graaf also came close to doubling her goal tally but the forward saw her fierce long-range effort rattle off the crossbar. 

Millwall struggled to recover from West Ham’s dominant, high-tempo football. The hosts were relentless in their pursuit for a fourth goal, forcing Millwall to retreat further into their own half. 

De Graaf nearly found the fourth early in the second half, but her first-time effort from Ria Percival’s cross was off target. 

Millwall began to enjoy more possession in the closing stages but struggled to find the right pass in the final third as West Ham continued to show more attacking threat.

The hosts were rewarded for their relentlessness in the closing stages when de Graaf burst into the box to secure a deserved 4-0 victory for the home side.

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West Ham United head coach Matt Beard said: “We were really pleased with the start of the game. We worked all week on finishing from crosses and playing around the box, so we’re really pleased with some of the goals that we scored.

“I think, after we went 3-0 up, we were a little sloppy for a 20-minute period, where we stopped moving the ball and interchange wasn’t as good as I would have liked it.

“Millwall have come here though and sat off us, and it’s difficult to break teams down that do that. It’s pleasing to get early goals and start like we did, and the other positive is to get a clean-sheet as well.

“We said to players at half-time about good habits. We were doing things that we wouldn’t normally do, and we can’t let that set in at any point.

“If we do bits like that in other games, we will get punished. It’s about doing the right thing and I think, in the second half, we did that especially well. On another day, we would have scored another two or three goals.

“I think it was good for Rosie and Ria to get starts today. We’re trying to manage the squad with three games in seven days. Kate Longhurst had a really good game.

“A lot of our play went through her and I was really pleased with her performance. There’s plenty of positives to take from this game. It was another good team performance.”

Ahead of the game against reading, Beard added: “We spent most of the week preparing for Reading and the key thing is, when you have players away on international duty, that they come back healthy.

“We’ve been keeping the intensity and tempo in training. It’s really pleasing to see some of those things starting to come off. We’ve got a good group of players here, which makes the job really enjoyable and really easy at times.”

Millwall captain Evie Clarke said: “We started the game really slow. We just weren’t good enough in the first half. We showed a lot of courage in the second half to come back and keep the score at 3-0 for a long time.

“We did well to only concede the one goal in the second half. I’m disappointed we conceded it though, we completely switched off for that free-kick.

“Today was a learning curve for us. We have a young team. Every game like this is more experience. The second half was much better today. We just need to work out how to start the game quicker.

“We were more organised in the second half. We kept talking to each other. I’m pleased with our defensive performance in the second half. We just need to figure out why it is taking us until the second half to successfully implement our game plan.”

On their next game against London Bees, Millwall’s Clarke added: “We need to be more threatening going forward. We only had one shot on target today and that isn’t good enough.

“Obviously we really need to recover now because we have three games in the space of a week.

“It will be a lot to ask from our players, but we are looking forward to it and want to improve with each game that comes.

“The league is our main focus now. We want to win as many games as we can and really compete.”