Bowen's last-minute winner clinches ECL glory for West Ham

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

Declan Rice lifts the trophy after West Ham win the Europa Conference League

Jarrod Bowen’s last-minute goal clinched Europa Conference League glory for West Ham with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in the final in Prague.

Bowen latched onto Lucas Paqueta’s pass and fired home a low finish to spark delirious West Ham celebrations at the Fortuna Arena and secure the club’s first piece of major silverware in 43 years.

Earlier, Said Benrahma’s 67th-minute penalty had been cancelled out by a quickfire strike by Giacomo Bonaventura, but David Moyes’ side showed impressive resilience, withstanding heavy pressure at times during the game and then striking in the 90th minute.

The victory ends a wait of more than four decades for major silverware and means they have won a European trophy for the second time in their history following the club’s UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1965. It also guarantees their place in next year’s Europa League following a 14th-placed Premier League finish.

How the teams lined up | Match statsGet Sky Sports | Download the Sky Sports app How West Ham made history

Victory looked unlikely at times during a one-sided first half in which Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi was left bloodied and bandaged after being hit by a plastic cup thrown from the West Ham end.

That incident was a blot on the contest and, in a boisterous atmosphere at the Fortuna Arena, following an afternoon in which fighting between fans in the city centre had led to 30 arrests, West Ham initially struggled to gain a foothold in the game.

Declan Rice, making what is expected to be his final appearance for the club, fired narrowly wide during one rare foray forward early on, but otherwise Moyes’ side were largely pinned in their own half as Fiorentina monopolised possession.

The Italians’ first clear chance came from a corner, delivered by Biraghi, with West Ham fortunate their slack marking was not punished as Nikola Milenkovic headed wastefully over.

It was after winning a corner in the same position that Biraghi was then struck in the head as empty cups rained down on him, the Fiorentina captain sarcastically applauding the West Ham end before realising the impact had left him bleeding.

A lengthy break in play followed as Biraghi had his head bandaged, with the stadium announcer imploring the West Ham fans to stop throwing objects before play resumed.

That warning was heeded, but the pattern of the game continued, with West Ham relieved after Luka Jovic bundled home from close range just before half-time, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside following a lengthy VAR check.

West Ham began to pose more of a threat after the break, particularly from set plays, and the breakthrough arrived when Biraghi was punished for a handball following another VAR check, with a nerveless Benrahma slamming home the resulting penalty.

Fiorentina hit back only a few minutes later, however, the excellent Bonaventura finding the far corner with a brilliantly-taken finish from Nicolas Gonzalez’s knockdown to restore parity.

Fiorentina almost completed the turnaround when Rolando Mandragora shot just wide from substitute Arthur Cabral’s pass, but the game continued toing and froing in the closing stages.

Tomas Soucek twice threatened for the Hammers, but it was Bowen who would be their hero, the 26-year-old keeping his cool to beat Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano from Paqueta’s through-ball and send West Ham supporters into dreamland.

Analysis: Rice secures his West Ham legacy

“To even be in that conversation is crazy,” said Declan Rice when asked about comparisons with West Ham greats Billy Bonds and Bobby Moore as he and his team-mates celebrated their success on the pitch at the Fortuna Arena.

But, like Bonds and Moore before him, the 24-year-old has now secured legendary status, even if, as expected, this proves to be his final game for them. Rice is only the third captain in West Ham’s history to win a major trophy for the club.

As always, he was central to their success in Prague, showing maturity far beyond his years as he guided his team-mates through long periods of Fiorentina pressure, excelling both in and out of possession in a tense and high-pressure contest.

It seems inevitable that the summer will see his suitors, among them Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, solidify their interest in him, but for now, he can savour the feeling of becoming a West Ham great, his legacy at the club he loves assured.

Moyes: Best moment of my career

West Ham manager David Moyes told BT Sport: “This is fantastic. I’ve had a long career in football and you don’t get many moments like this. Thankfully tonight we’ve had a great time and we’ve got the result we wanted.

“These sorts of moments as a manager don’t come around too often. You have to work very hard. You don’t get enough good moments in football sometimes but today is a great moment for us.

“It’s a brilliant club in the east end of London who do brilliant work in the community. It’s a big family club and it’s getting better and stronger.

“We’ve got a 65,000-capacity stadium which we’ve nearly filled all season. It’s an incredible achievement for a football club to be growing like that. Tonight is another step on the road to progress and continued progress.

“The game probably didn’t go to plan the way we wanted it to, but in the end, winning finals is the important thing. You have some managers who have got a lot of medals by finding a way of winning.

Asked if it’s his best day in management, he said: “I would have to say so. The moments you get to celebrate with your family and win in the last minute of the game, it doesn’t happen often. It can go against you but tonight is a brilliant feeling.

“If somebody had said three years ago when I took the job that you’d avoid relegation and finish in Europe and I’ve said you were mad.

“This competition has been great for us, the players have been remarkable.”

Rice: I love playing for this club

West Ham Declan Rice refused to comment on speculation linking him with a departure after the match but reaffirmed his love for the club.

“There is interest from other clubs, that’s out there, but I’ve got two years left at West Ham ultimately,” he said to BT Sport.

“I love this club, I love playing for this club. There’s not been anything yet, so my focus is on playing for West Ham, enjoying tonight and then seeing what happens. I’m captain of this club, I love it to pieces and I cannot speak highly enough of this place. Let’s see what happens.”

Asked if it was the best day of his career, he said: “Without a doubt. I’m so happy, it’s not going to hit me, I’m going to try and just take the moment in now and let’s see what happens.”

He also reserved praise for manager David Moyes, saying: “I want to have a big mention for the manager. There’s been times this year he’s been tested, there was a period where a lot of the fanbase wanted him out, but if you look at his time at this club, he saved us, he came back and saved us again, got us into Europe two years in a row and now this.

“He’s up there as probably West Ham’s best-ever manager now, it has to be said.”

West Ham’s historic feat – Opta statsWest Ham’s Jarrod Bowen is the first Englishman to score the winning goal in a major European final since Alan Smith for Arsenal in the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup final against Parma.West Ham have won their second-ever major European trophy, their first since lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.Said Benrahma scored his sixth goal from the penalty spot in all competitions this season, the most by a West Ham player since Mark Noble in 2011/12 (7).West Ham scored their 12th goal from the penalty spot this season, only Man City and Real Madrid (both 14) have netted more in all competitions among teams in the top five European leagues in 2022/23.Fiorentina have lost four of their five major European finals, losing each of their last three since their only ever such victory, against Rangers in the 1961 Cup Winners’ Cup.

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

West Ham’s Declan Rice vies for the ball with Fiorentina’s Nicolas Gonzalez

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

David Moyes celebrates with West Ham captain Declan Rice

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

The Fiorentina captain was bandaged up and then able to continue

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

He then bled from his head and required treatment

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi sarcastically applauded the West Ham fans

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

Biraghi was able to play the full game wearing a bandage

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

West Ham’s Said Benrahma celebrates scoring his penalty against Fiorentina

bowen's last-minute winner clinches ecl glory for west ham

Jarrod Bowen celebrates after scoring West Ham’s late winner against Fiorentina

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