Jacob Steinberg was in Lyon tonight to see the Hammers make it to the last four of the Europa League. Here’s his report. Thanks for reading this one. Nighty night!
David Moyes talks to BT. “I am immensely proud of the players, their performance … and when you look back, more so their performance in the second half. I don’t think many people thought we were going to make it tonight. We’ve got a really good group of lads, I’m really lucky. The journey in two years, we were talking about relegation, and now we’re talking about getting to the semi-final of a European tournament. It’s fabulous, and we’re all going to look forward to it. I think it’s been huge what we’ve done in two years. We’ve not won any trophies yet, but we’ve beaten Sevilla and Lyon, big clubs that are used to European football, and we go again. Tonight was a big moment for us, a really, really good result. When we qualified last year and you could hear all the fans singing ‘We’re all going on a European tour’, well, they’ve had a pretty good tour. Belgium, Croatia, France tonight, we’ve been in Spain, I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to going to Germany as well!”
Declan Rice speaks to BT. “It feels special. Very, very special. We knew it was a tough place to come, we knew they had top individual quality. But we knew we could score goals tonight. It’s such a great night. It was special tonight, it was so, so good. If you can’t get up for these games, you shouldn’t be playing football. We want to reach the final, and will give it everything.” He also mentions payback for Dembele’s cheeky wink in the first leg, plus some big talk on the official Lyon Twitter feed. It’s been a good night for West Ham all right.
Jarrod Bowen adds: “We had to deal with a bit of pressure … and it’s a horrible score to be two goals up, because they get one, and they’re back in it! We knew the first 15 minutes of the second half would be big, and the way they defended, for me as an attacker, the space was there. I got in, and thankfully got a third!”
Eintracht Frankfurt did their level best to throw it away at Camp Nou, mind. They were 3-0 up going into stoppage time, and 4-1 on aggregate, only for Sergio Busquets to pull one back on the 90-minute mark. Then, in the 11th minute of added time (!) Memphis Depay slammed home another from the spot. The whistle went straight after the restart, though, and Eintracht made it through 4-3 on aggregate despite it all.
David Moyes goes up to the away section and raises both arms in triumph. He deserves all the applause. The state West Ham were in when he took over … and now look! They utterly dismantled Lyon this evening, soaking up some early pressure, riding a little bit of luck maybe, before suddenly blooming into an unstoppable force. Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen, Craig Dawson and Pablo Fornals were perhaps the standout players in claret, though everyone in a West Ham shirt was a star this evening. A special word for Issa Diop, a stand-in for the injured Kurt Zouma, who picked up an early booking then spent the rest of the evening dealing with the dangerous Karl Toko Ekambi in the fuss-free style. It’s Hammer time!
Lyon are whistled off, but never mind that: West Ham, brilliant and brave, have made it to the semi-finals of a major European competition for the first time since 1976! They’ll meet Eintracht Frankfurt … who they beat that year in the Cup Winners’ Cup! Some things are just meant to be.
90 min +3: Ekambi drags a weak shot wide left. Lyon went 12 European games unbeaten at home before this!
90 min +2: The away fans are loudly blowing bubbles. What a night they’re going to have!
90 min +2: Reine-Adelaide has a bash but his shot is blocked.
90 min +1: This is going to be West Ham’s first away win since Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup back in February. And what a struggle that was! Oh Lyon.
90 min: Benrahma comes on for Rice. There will be four added minutes.
89 min: Denayer makes way for Reine-Adelaide.
87 min: Dembele has a shot. Straight down Areola’s throat.
85 min: Now Fornals is booked for … not very much at all. Time-wasting, maybe. “Never mind Craig Dawson – surely Tete must be good with his head?” quips Gareth Neville, perhaps one diacritic away from the perfect gag. But he is here all week. Try the sliced, pan-fried potatoes.
84 min: Barcola is booked for bringing down an in-flight Antonio. That’s the West Ham forward’s last contribution tonight, as he’s replaced by Yarmolenko. Meanwhile N Goodwin observes: “If Aouar takes umbrage with being subbed off, then Bosz could say ‘I owe you nothing, Aouar, nothing at allll’. Or is that Bros?”
83 min: Lyon aren’t threatening a Benfica-at-Anfield-style late nerve rattler. They’re going nowhere.
81 min: Fornals, mopping up deep in West Ham territory, finds Antonio on the halfway line with a laser pass. Antonio strides down the right, eating up the yards, eating up the time. He eventually earns a free kick, and though nothing comes of it, the clock ticks on.
79 min: Another half chance for Lyon, as Barcola loops deep from the right. Tete telescopes a leg at the far stick, but can only steer the ball into the side netting.
78 min: With Lyon threatening for the first time in ages, West Ham make their first change of the evening. Noble comes on to shore things up, taking the place of Lanzini.
76 min: A corner for Lyon on the left. Mendes swings it in. Dembele fluffs a header, ten yards out, but the ball breaks right for Barcola, in acres. He blazes over from the edge of the six-yard box. A great chance to plant a seed of doubt in West Ham’s collective noggin is spurned.
75 min: Barcola loops a cross in from the right. Dembele throws himself at a bicycle kick. He comes a cropper when pedalling into the imperious Dawson and fails to connect.
73 min: Tete has a speculative wander down the left. Dawson isn’t having any of it. He’s not getting past.
71 min: Dawson goes down, having taken a ball flush in the coupon. While he’s sniffing the smelling salts, Barcola comes on for Aouar. When play restarts, the previously assured Ekambi takes an air shot from 12 yards.
70 min: Barcelona are now 3-0 down at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, Filip Kostic scoring his second of the evening on 67 minutes. No trip to Camp Nou for West Ham’s fans, then. Like anyone will give two hoots about that right now.
69 min: Gusto snaps up a loose ball 25 yards out, then screeches a diagonal drive towards the bottom left. Areola has to extend fully to fingertip around the post. Fine save, and nothing comes of the corner.
67 min: Antonio wins a corner down the left. From the set piece, Bowen screeches a wild shot into the stand behind.
66 min: Soucek rakes a pass down the left to release Fornals into acres. His first touch takes him a little bit wide, so he pulls back for Antonio. The ball’s blocked, and pings back in his direction. He takes a shot from a tight angle. That’s blocked too. He cocks back his head and laughs. West Ham can afford to take these things in their stride right now.
64 min: This is better from Lyon. A deep cross from the left. Paqueta wins it at the far post, the ball breaking back to Dembele, who spins and sends a vicious shot over the bar from 12 yards. As close as Lyon have come since Ekambi hit the post early doors.
63 min: Lyon probe the West Ham defence to little effect. In fact the most creative moment comes from Fornals, who intercepts, diddles his way past a couple of people, and nearly releases Antonio down the left with an ambitious outside-of-the-boot rake. Not quite. Somebody’s been watching Luka Modric.
61 min: Antonio contests a high ball with Lukeba, who climbs all over his back. Antonio does the savvy thing, and lays down for a minute’s worth of treatment. West Ham are in complete control of this tie.
59 min: Tete swings one in from the right. Dawson – whose heading prowess knocks that of Trevor Brooking into a cocked hat, this much we’ve established – is all over it and clears.
57 min: A lot of stony expressions in the stands. West Ham have done a number on Lyon here.
55 min: Ekambi cuts in from the left and flays a cross out for a goal kick. He was sensational for most of the first half; now his shoulders are slumped and he’s trudging through the slough of despond. Conceding three goals in 11 minutes tends to affect the mood.
53 min: Lyon’s frustration betrays them, Ekambi barging into the back of Bowen to concede a free kick. The set piece is flung into the box. For a second, it looks like Soucek, who has brought down the dropping ball on the byline, is free to cause havoc, but the flag belatedly goes up for offside. This is all West Ham right now. “Is this real life?” wonders Ian Melven, before pulling us up on another West Ham-related point. “Also, Craig Dawson often scores with his head!” You’re welcome, no need to thank us. Pulitzer, please!
52 min: Rice goes sashaying down the left and wins a corner. Fornals doesn’t rush to take it. He eventually whips the set piece straight down Pollersbeck’s throat.
50 min: Bowen’s goal has sucked all of the life out of the stadium … apart from one obvious corner, that is. “You mentioned the 1980 FA Cup final earlier,” begins Justin Kavanagh. “Would it be fair to say that Craig Dawson, who swooped to nod one in tonight, doesn’t often score with his head?”
They’re still 42 minutes away … but oh so close now! Fornals, quarterbacking from deep on the left, pings a diagonal pass upfield for Bowen, who romps clear down the middle. He reaches the edge of the box before launching an unstoppable daisycutter into the bottom left. What a finish!
47 min: It’s a positive start to the half by West Ham, who are 45 minutes away from their first European semi-final since 1976. Antonio busies himself down the left. Bowen probes down the right. Lyon hold firm; they can’t afford not to.
West Ham get the second half underway. Lyon have made two changes, bringing on Tete and the under-the-weather (but not Covid-stricken) Paqueta. Faivre and Ndombele make way.
Half-time vidiprinter: As things stand, it’s going to be West Ham versus Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final, because the Germans are now 2-0 up against Barcelona at Camp Nou, Santos Borre doubling their lead on 36 minutes. In the other half of the draw, Rangers are 2-0 up on the night, 2-1 on aggregate, against a Braga side down to ten men. The winner of that tie will meet RB Leipzig, who earlier beat Atalanta 2-0 to win their tie 3-1 on aggregate. A bit long-winded for something styling itself as a vidiprinter, but there it is.
The whistle goes, and Lyon traipse off to a few whistles. West Ham have been magnificent, soaking up pressure, drawing Lyon’s sting, and suddenly blooming into life towards the end of the half. They’ve got one foot in the semi-finals … though of course there’s still a long way to go.
45 min: There will be one added minute.
They don’t make it to the break! Johnson romps down the left. His cross is only half cleared. The ball breaks to Rice, in a pocket of space. Rice takes his time, sets himself, and pearls a low shot goalwards. It takes a nick off Lukeba and flies into the bottom left! West Ham are in dreamland here!
43 min: This is all West Ham now. Lyon are rocking, and could do with hearing the half-time whistle before conceding another.
41 min: Dawson takes an accidental whack in the chops from Ekambi. It’s a free kick to West Ham nonetheless, out on the right. Coufal knocks it to Bowen on the right. Bowen loops long. Soucek, to the left of the six-yard box, heads across the face of goal. Emerson high-kicks to hoof away, just in time, with Antonio and Rice waiting to head home from close range.
40 min: Fornals and Antonio nearly open up a stunned Lyon down the left with a crisp one-two. Not quite, but the extra spring in West Ham’s step is already evident.
Fornals whips the corner to the near post. Dawson stoops and steers a header into the net from close range. Easy as that!