UEFA Conference League Winners: West Ham capped off a challenging season

West Ham Lift First European Trophy for 48 Years

Hammers Dramatically Defeat Fiorentina

West Ham capped off a challenging season by winning European silverware. The UEFA Conference League Winners dramatically defeated Fiorentina 2-1 last Wednesday. The Hammers will compete in the Europa League next season, despite a 14th-place finish in the English Premier League. David Moyes has made a case for being the best West Ham manager of all time as he delivered the club their first major trophy since 1980. Let’s look at how West Ham went from the relegation zone to European glory.

Match Recap

The first goal in last Wednesday’s final between Fiorentina and West Ham didn’t come until after the hour mark. A VAR review awarded West Ham a penalty after a handball from Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi. Said Benrahma converted on the penalty to put the Hammers ahead, but Fiorentina didn’t cave in.

The Viola scored just five minutes later to equalize the match. Giacomo Bonaventura scored past Alphonse Areola to set up a nervy last 25 minutes.

Fiorentina had the better spells of possession throughout the match in Prague, but West Ham got a breakthrough. Lucas Paqueta played a perfectly weighted through ball for Jarrod Bowen, who finished past Pietro Terracciano in the 90th minute.

The Hammers held on in stoppage time and celebrated their first European trophy since 1965. West Ham coach David Moyes confirmed that it was the best moment of his career.

West Ham’s Run

In 13 UEFA Europa Conference League matches, West Ham won more than they did in a 38-game English Premier League season. En route to becoming UEFA Conference League winners, the Hammers went 6-0 in the group stage and outscored their opponents 13-4.

They finished first in the Group B UEFA Conference League standings. West Ham then destroyed AEK Larnaca 6-0 over two legs in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals.

David Moyes’s side drew 1-1 with Gent in the first leg. They managed a 4-1 win in the second leg, in which Michail Antonio scored twice.

West Ham then defeated AZ Alkmaar 3-1 on aggregate in the semifinals. That set up a meeting with Serie A club Fiorentina in the final in Prague. Before the match, West Ham’s last major European trophy was a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup win back in 1965.

On West Ham’s run to the title Michail Antonio led the team with six goals, and Jarrod Bowen added five goals and two assists. While West Ham went just 11-7-20 in the Premier League, they put together an excellent 12-1-0 record in the Conference League.

Next Season

The UEFA Conference League winners will now play in the 2023-24 Europa League. West Ham have earned an automatic berth in the group stage, a significant achievement for the East London club.

European football’s allure could be massively beneficial in the transfer market. Still, captain and critical midfielder Declan Rice is expected to leave the club in the offseason. Arsenal and Bayern Munich, among other clubs, and could command a $100 million fee.

With the windfall West Ham receive from an impending transfer, they’ll undoubtedly look to boost their squad. Midfielders James Ward-Prowse, Edson Alvarez and Harvey Barnes have been discussed as targets to replace Rice. Regardless, West Ham did participate in the 2021-22 Europa League and knocked out Lyon and Sevilla en route to the semifinals.

The Hammers lost to eventual champions Eintracht Frankfurt. Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen and Lucas Paqueta should remain critical players next season. The Hammers could be one of the more popular soccer bets for the competition.
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