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West Ham tops AZ Alkmaar to reach Europa Conference League Final

Glenn Murray visits the AiSCOUT lab to gain insight into the modern, technology-driven player recruitment landscape.

West Ham is headed to the Europa Conference League Final in Prague following a 1-0 second leg away win over AZ Alkmaar in Thursday’s semifinal.

The Irons beat AZ Alkmaar 2-1 in the first leg, and Thursday’s trip to AFAS Stadium got the job done in a low-xG affair that went very much according to David Moyes’ script.

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The Irons dodged a VAR appeal in what would’ve been a harsh late handball on Kurt Zouma, but were otherwise rarely threatened by AZ, and Pablo Fornals scored a goal deep in stoppage to put the tie to bed, 3-1 on aggregate.

West Ham will meet either Fiorentina or Basel in the final on June 7, their tie still in the balance as of post time.

AZ Alkmaar vs West Ham player ratings: Stars of the Show

Nayef Aguerd

Tijjani Reijnders

Declan Rice

Lucas Paqueta

Pablo Fornals

David Moyes dials up vintage performance

Sure, he would’ve liked to see a scrappy goal of sorts to cap off a hard-working win, but David Moyes’ Irons were very much on his script when it comes to their Thursday performance.

The goal, it turned out, wasn’t scrappy at all, and Fornals’ finish was a fitting way to seal a place in the final.

Leading by one after 90 minutes at home, West Ham was so difficult to break down and ran their shorts off at every opportunity to flummox the Dutch side’s hopes of getting the tie to level status.

AZ out-attempted West Ham 12-9 but Alphonse Areola only needed to make two saves with a stalwart defensive performance in front of him.

Silverware incoming?

How to watch AZ Alkmaar vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Thursday May 18
Online: Live updates for Conference League via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines & star players

Vangelis Pavlidis has scored five times in the tournament, and Tijjani Reijnders has been one of AZ’s stars. He belted home AZ’s goal in the London-hosted first leg.

Should he pass fit, Michail Antonio will be a problem for AZ (again). His six goals in the competition trail only Fiorentina’s Arthur Cabral (7), and the big forward has proven a handful for European defenses. Antonio had two goals and two assists in last season’s Europa League, and also scored in Conference League qualifiers last summer.

AZ Alkmaar team news, injuries, lineup options

AZ is playing without Bruno Martins Indi, Sam Westerveld, Dani de Wit, and Jesper Karlsson.

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

Vladimir Coufal and Michail Antonio pass fitness tests, with the former on the bench and the latter in the XI, while Gianluca Scamacca is out for the season unless, perhaps, the season reaches the ECL Final.

Follow @NicholasMendola