The fourteenth in the Premier League is therefore European champion. Admittedly, this is only the Europa League Conference, considered the third of the continental events in terms of prestige – after the Champions League and the Europa League – but the English club West Ham can be proud to add a beautiful line to his credit after winning the final, Wednesday, June 7, against the Italians of Fiorentina.
The Hammers take over from AS Roma, which won the first edition of this Europa League Conference last year, and secure a place in the Europa League next season. They won their first trophy since an FA Cup gleaned in 1980. On the European scene, their previous title dates back to the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.
At the Eden Arena in Prague, filled with 18,000 spectators, the two teams were neutralized in a first half during which West Ham fired only one shot on target, by Jamaican striker Michail Antonio, from the first minute. The Italians were denied an offside goal by Serbian striker Luka Jovic in added time.
“We are going down in the history of the club”
The Londoners finally opened the scoring shortly after the hour mark, on a whistled penalty after a handball mistake by the captain of the Viola, Cristiano Biraghi, confirmed by video arbitration. Saïd Benrahma scored strongly on the right by deceiving goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano (1-0).
But the Fiorentina players did not give up, and equalized five minutes later thanks to a cross shot in the box from midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura (1-1). La Viola took control of the game to try to take cover, with a shot from twelve meters from Rolando Mandragora right next to it, or with a long shot from Biraghi, easily captured by French international goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
“It feels good, it was difficult for everyone… we are going down in the history of the club”commented the latter at the microphone of Canal +. “It feels good to add a European Cup to my list. That one is pretty special because I played it from start to finish.”added the Frenchman, who was the designated goalkeeper for Europa League Conference games this season
bowen the hero
West Ham attacked in the last ten minutes and Jarrod Bowen, launched well into the back of the Italian defense by Lucas Paqueta, beat Terracciano with a heavy strike in the 90e minute (2-1). “Of course, I dreamed of scoring, but scoring the winning goal at the last minute is what we all want to do”and Bowen responded. “And to do it in front of these supporters, I almost cried. I am happy. »
For Fiorentina, who finished eighth in Serie A, it is a new disappointment, after their defeat in the Italian Cup final against Inter Milan on May 24.
The match, tense and marred by numerous faults, was stopped a few minutes after the half-hour mark. As he was about to take a corner, Biraghi was hit in the back of the head by plastic cups thrown by the West Ham fans. The player received treatment on the pitch and play resumed after a call for calm was made in the stadium.
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Several hundred police had been deployed in the city to avoid the clashes between supporters which had marred the two semi-final matches between West Ham and the Dutch club Alkmaar. Three people were slightly injured in a fight between supporters in a bar in the city, according to the Czech police, who reported sixteen arrests.