Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham United
Jarrod Bowen’s last-minute winner saw West Ham end their 43-year wait for a trophy with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.
The Hammers won a first piece of silverware since 1980’s FA Cup, and a first European trophy since 1965, on a historic and emotional night in Prague.
Yes, it may be only Europe’s third-tier competition, the one treated as an unwanted distraction by Tottenham, among others, in its inaugural form last season.
But this is West Ham. The West Ham who routinely see relegation as an occupational hazard. The West Ham who made a song and dance of leaving their old stadium and an almighty hash of moving into the new one. The West Ham who had to go begging to their former manager to save them from the drop, 18 months after they got rid of him when he had done just that.
Just nine weeks ago that same manager watched as the away fans unfurled a ‘Moyes Out’ banner during a scratchy 1-0 win over Fulham, which likely saved his job.
Now David Moyes has written his name in West Ham folklore, joining Ron Greenwood and John Lyall as trophy-winning Hammers managers.
A place in next season’s Europa League means the club has qualified for Europe three seasons in a row, for the first time.
And what a way to sign off for Declan Rice, destined to leave this summer but with the legacy of becoming only the third captain, along with Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds, to lift silverware in the club’s 128-year history.
The Hammers have given their fans, 5,000 of whom were – officially at least – in attendance and the 20,000-or so who just wanted to be in Prague for their first European final in 47 years, the ride of their lives.
The match at the Eden Arena looked like it was heading to extra time when Lucas Paqueta slipped a ball through to Bowen who outpaced the defenders and fired home past a sprawling Fiorentina keeper.
West Ham took the lead in the 62nd minute when Said Benrahma converted a penalty after a VAR review confirmed a handball by the Italian side’s captain Cristiano Biraghi, who had earlier received medical attention after being struck on the head by a plastic cup thrown from the stands.
Fiorentina immediately stepped up the pace and were rewarded five minutes later when Giacomo Bonaventura controlled the ball with two defenders on him and sent an angled shot past the West Ham keeper.
Both sides struggled to create much in a nervy opening half with Fiorentina controlling possession but lacking a cutting edge in the final third, while West Ham had long spells without the ball after Declan Rice curled a shot wide in the early stages.