West Ham win Europa Conference League, end 43-year trophy drought
West Ham United won their first major trophy in 43 years, as they beat Fiorentina 2-1 in the 90th minute to claim the Europa Conference League trophy in Prague, Czech Republic, on Wednesday.
A thoroughly disappointing Premier League campaign saw West Ham finish 14th after avoiding relegation with only two games remaining, but all is well that ends well — at least as far as under-fire manager David Moyes is concerned. After 25 years as a manager, Moyes is also a major trophy winner himself (his Preston North End side was crowned third-tier champions in 1999-2000).
12 - West Ham United won more games in the Europa Conference League (12) than in the Premier League this season (11), the first time ever an English side has won more games in European competition than in the league in a single season. Specialists. pic.twitter.com/qJ9jGDWziK— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 7, 2023
Previously, West Ham had won just one major European trophy in the club’s history (the European Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1964-65).
Play was stopped following some unsavory scenes in the 33rd minute, when Fiorentina left back Cristiano Biraghi was struck in the head by what appeared to be a plastic cup thrown from the stands. The object opened a cut on the back of Biraghi’s head, which turned red as blood streamed down his neck and required bandaging before play resumed. On more than one occasion, objects were thrown onto the field as Fiorentina took corner kicks.
Fiorentina appeared to have broken the deadlock with the final touch of the first half, as Luka Jovic headed a rebound over the goal line after Christian Kouame’s header hit the post, but the assistant referee immediately flagged for offside and the decision was upheld by video review.
After 60 mostly uneventful minutes, the Europa Conference League final burst to life right on the hour mark. As Bowen trapped the ball with his chest and turned to run toward goal, Biraghi tried to position himself between Bowen and the ball, but only managed to punch it away with his hand. Video review revealed a clear handball offense, and Said Benrahma hammered the ensuring penalty kick into the upper-90.
The Hammers’ lead lasted only five minutes, though, and what a beauty of an equalizer it was that drew Fiorentina level. Giacomo Bonaventura showed off with some sensational close control, collecting the ball and unleashing a volley from a tight angle with two fast touches in one smooth motion.
Just as extra-time appeared to be inevitable, it was once again Bowen at the center of a rare moment of positive play for West Ham. Lucas Paqueta slipped a through ball behind Fiorentina’s defense and found Bowen, who timed his run perfectly before racing in on goal and beating Pietro Terracciano even though he got a shin on the strike. Along with thousands of West Ham fans behind the goal, Bowen and Co., celebrated wildly, as they undoubtedly will late into the night and perhaps also the weekend.
Stars of the show
Europa Conference League final, Fiorentina vs West Ham, final score: 2-1
62nd minute - Said Benrahma converts penalty kick after Cristiano Biraghi handball
67th minute - Giacomo Bonaventura smashes Fiorentina level with an instant equalizer
90th minute - Jarrod Bowen races in behind, wins it for West Ham
How to watch Fiorentina vs West Ham live, stream link and start time
West Ham team news, lineup options
David Moyes has a very good idea of his starting lineup as Alphonse Areola has been his goalkeeper for European competition this season, while Declan Rice will captain the Hammers in midfield in what could be his final game in a West Ham shirt. Tomas Soucek (playing in his homeland of Czechia) will partner Rice in midfield.
Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma are certain to start in attack, with Lucas Paqueta also a nailed-on starter. In defense Kurt Zouma will be the main man, with Aaron Cresswell, Nayef Aguerd and Thilo Kehrer completing the defensive line. Gianluca Scamacca is the only injury absentee for West Ham with Danny Ings, Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini very good options off the bench.
Fiorentina team news, lineup options
The main men to look out for are Arthur Cabral up top, while Moroccan star Sofyan Amrabat in midfield and Argentina winger Nicolas Gonzalez are key. Fiorentina also have the likes of Luka Jovic and Jonathan Ikone to call on in attack.