West Ham win Europa Conference League thanks to last-gasp Jarrod Bowen strike – latest reaction

Jarrod Bowen won it for West Ham in the dying minutes in Prague - PA/Joe Giddens

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.

Live reaction below…

10:13 PM

Michail Antonio is asked whether he has organised the Prague party

I’m usually chief organiser but we’ve got two Czech boys so I’ve had to pass over the baton today. Anything will be good tonight. As long as there’s alcohol I’m going to enjoy it.

10:11 PM

All the players are on the pitch with their kids

BT Sport keeps saying West Ham have won their first silverware for 58 years. Alan Taylor and Trevor Brooking want a word … 58 years since their last European trophy.

10:10 PM

Jarrod Bowen speaks

I obviously dreamed of scoring but to score the winner in the last minute … it’s what you always say you want to do. I’m so happy. We haven’t had the best season, me included but to do it for these fans, it’s so special. I’m over the moon. You make that run 10 times but you might get it once. And then you’ve got to put it away. I had a lot of time but I felt confident. I said this is the biggest game of my career. And obviously the emotion, I thought it was going to extra time but we got one more chance and we won it. I am over the moon.

10:05 PM

I’m warming to Don Hutchinson who is a very fine pundit

‘We owe it to West Ham fans to be quiet for five minutes,’ he says. Too true.

10:03 PM

Savage is being unbearable now

Screaming” ‘Go on Moyesey. Go on Moyesey! Moyesey’s going for it!’ As the West Ham manager dad dances. Let West Ham savour these pictures without all this bilge.

10:02 PM

Tom Morgan reports from Prague

There is clear nervousness for stadium authorities that we could see fresh clashes after the final whistle. Riot police are currently lining the West Ham end. The plastic cups had come raining down on the pitch for a second time as West Ham celebrated Bowen’s strike.

10:01 PM

Full time: Fiorentina 1 West Ham 2

West Ham win the Europa Conference League!!!

10:01 PM

90+7 min: Fiorentina 1 West Ham 2

Fiorentina free-kick wide on the right. Keeper goes up. Out it floats for a goal-kick.

10:00 PM

90+4 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 2

And see off another storm of pressure, uncoordinated pressure.

09:59 PM

90+2 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 2

West Ham repel a bombardment of long balls and crosses.

09:58 PM

GOAL: Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham

Paqueta with a wonderful pass inside his own half sent Bowen through from halfway, Biraghi playing him onside by half a yard. He ran through to the edge of the box, keeping just ahead of Igor then calmly finished with his left, skimming it over Terracciano who spread himself as wide as he could. What a finish.

Robbie Savage has been a right, royal pain in the backside tonight. But never more so than then. Ruining the moment with his prattling. Don Hutchinson has been very astute by contrast.

09:54 PM

Yes! Goal stands

It was onside.

09:53 PM

VAR will check

Looks just about onside.

09:53 PM

GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham (Bowen)

09:52 PM

88 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Mistake by Paqueta deep on the West Ham right when he is stripped of the ball by Biraghi, Mandragora and Amrabat. It’s Amrabat who cuts in to shoot with his right … straight down Areola’s throat.

09:50 PM

87 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

The Viola centre-forward Cabral heads the free-kick clear at the near post and for a moment there’s a threat that Gonzalez could break but Emerson gets back to cover.

09:49 PM

85 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Amrabat is booked for a foul on Emerson, catching him maliciously with his studs on his shin. West Ham free-kkick, wide left, parallel with the 18-yard line.

09:48 PM

83 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Fiorentina make another change: Igor ⇢ Ranieri.

09:46 PM

81 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Good save from Terracciano who was off balance, running out and had to adjust to dive to his right and push Soucek’s header wide. West Ham can’t do anything from the free-kick and Bowen jars his thigh in competing for the cross. He looks OK, though running back like the Tin Man presently.

09:44 PM

79 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

West Ham long throw into the box from the right. Antonio goes for a shut-that-door back flick and catches Milenkovic in the face. The ball rebounds to Soucek whose shot is blocked on the line but the referee then blows for Antonio’s Larry Grayson foul on Milenkovic.

09:41 PM

77 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Coufal shoots over from the free-kick. Fiorentina restart quickly with the goal-kick, send Biraghi up the left to cut in and wobble a right-foot shot at goal that Areola easily clutches abpve his head.

09:39 PM

75 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Better from West Ham as Paqueta springs to life and bombs down the left. Milenkovic can’t keep pace so brings him down and accepts the yellow card that was inevitable.

Fornals ⇢ Benrahma.

09:36 PM

73 min Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1

Oh my goodness. Fiorentina should be ahead. West Ham are wilting and once again they’re opened up by a diagonal. Cabral traps it with the deftest touch then lays it back to Mandragora, 12 yards out. Soucek dives in to try to block and Mandragora steers it wide with his left. Had to score. Just the keeper to beat from 12 yards. Soucek tried to interfere but got there too late to disrupt him.

09:30 PM

GOAL!

Fiorentina 1 West Ham 1 (Boaventura)  Great finish. Long diagonal left to right. Gonzalez beasts Emerson in the air and nods it to the right of the penalty spot. Bonaventura cushions it perfectly with his left foot then thumps it into the bottom left with his right. Amrabat’s long diagonal opened up the defence like a can of beans.

09:30 PM

65 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 1

Robbie Savage is rather overselling the penalty. It wasn’t in the top corner but it was well hit. Cabral’s stab in the box on the end of a right-wing cross hits Aguerd on the chest and then the upper arm. Accidental, says Don Hutchinson. Most of them are. Not given.

09:28 PM

63 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 1

Both sides make changes:

Saponara ⇢ Kouame

Kehrer ⇢ Zouma.

09:25 PM

GOAL!!!!

Fiorentina 0-1 West Ham (Benrahma, pen) Buries it. Thumps it high, right of centre as Terracciano went the other way.

09:24 PM

Penalty!

Not deliberate. His arm was up in the running position and his momentum tapped the ball away from Bowen.

Benrahma will take.

09:23 PM

VAR check for possible West Ham penalty

The ref is sent over to the screen to make a call on a handball. Briaghi’s hand touched the ball that knocked it away from Bowen.

09:21 PM

58 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

The ball breaks to Kouame on the left and he cuts inside but shanks a shot tepidly straight at Areola.

09:20 PM

56 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

West Ham try to break the press by going long up to Antonio who wins the header and nods it back to where Bowen ideally would be … but he is 10 yards further back. He’d been doing his defensive donkey work and couldn’t get up in time. Nothing moves as fast as the ball, they used to say.

09:18 PM

54 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Amrabat is at the hub of everything Fiorentina do … passes long and short, creating the rhythm, dictating the tempo.

09:17 PM

52 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Antonio has rolled the legs of his shorts up very high again and looks like he’s wearing a loin cloth. He has time to do that because Aguerd and Gonzalez are hurt after an aerial collision. Aguerd is booked for hitting Gonzales before the ball.

09:14 PM

50 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Antonio takes the throw, hurling in a Howitzer but it’s not flat enough and Terracciano barges his way through his defence to catch.

09:13 PM

49 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Big shout for a West ham penalty when Bowen is touched on the back of the head by Biraghi but there wasn’t much contact and West Ham have to make do with a corner that Cabral clears at the near post out for a throw.

09:12 PM

47 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Soucek is penalised for knobbling Ranieri in the air and sending him on to the floor like a bag of spanners. Fiorentina take the free-kick in their own half and probe dangerously for 45 seconds but neither Dodo nor Mandragora can deliver an accurate cross.

09:10 PM

46 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiotentina make a change Cabral ⇢ Jovic who was injured in the process of putting the ball over the line.

08:59 PM

Half-time: Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Not your bog-standard 0-0. Plenty of incident, quite a bot of quality from Fiorentina, West Ham striving to hurt them on the break but lacking composure and a raucous atmosphere, punctuated by a couple of reprehensible incidents from a handful of stupid West Ham fans chucking pint pots, vapes and, possibly, coins, at Biraghi, one of which cut his shaved head.

08:51 PM

VAR check ongoing

Kouame’s header was pushed out at full-stretch by Areola and Jovic pounced. Kouame was onside. Jovic looked fractionally off. And that’s the VAR verdict. Jovic, following in, had been maybe six inches offside when he pounced and stabbed it over the line, getting hurt as Areola scrambled to block it. VAR confirms he was just offside. No goal.  As soon as Areola takes the free-kick, the ref blows for half-time.

Jovic 'scores' but goal is wiped off - AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Jovic ‘scores’ but goal is wiped off – AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

08:50 PM

GOAL???

VAR check on whether Jovic was offside.

08:49 PM

45+3 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Rice hooks Biraghi’s overhit corner clear. No missiles this time as he went to place the ball in the right corner quadrant.

08:48 PM

45+2 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

I wonder if Cabral, who has scored eight goals in the competition, might be an early switch for Jovic who can be a lethal finisher but isn’t firing tonight or making the right runs to disrupt Zouma and Coufal.

08:47 PM

45 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Four minutes go up on the board. It’s all Fiorentina again possession wise and Bonaventura is played in with a ball over the top on the right after a clever run but he then overhits his shot aiming for Kouame and Areola plucks Biraghi’s return cross out of the air.

08:44 PM

42 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

West Ham free-kick 30 yards out, left of centre. Emerson’s floaty cross is cleared to the right. Coufal gobbles it up and sends a cross to the moon and back before it drops at the far post for Soucek to head invitingly towards the centre of goal eight yards out, begging for a finish. Nobody, nobody was there, as Louis MacNeice put it.

08:42 PM

40 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiorentina are fuming over the award of a corner to West Ham when Dodo was shepherding Benrahma towards the byline. It was Benrahma who had the last touch but the ref give sit the other way. Emerson’s first effort is headed out for another but his second reaches the back post and headed out towards the 18-yard line weakly. Kouame slips and ice thumps a left-foot effort into Mandragora.

08:39 PM

More from Tom Morgan

David Moyes has been fuming on the touchline at some puzzling decision from Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande. Michail Antonio is being manhandled at every turn and was wiped out by a very late tackle on the right flank just now. No foul given, however. West Ham crowd now on Del Cerro’s back.

08:38 PM

Tom Morgan reports from Prague

Both sets of fans are fully cranked up inside the stadium. Declan Rice got the Hammers revved up ahead of kick off, waving his arms wildly up and down to rapturous cheers.  The purple-clad Fiorentina fans have been arguably louder as the game has progressed, however. Scenes outside the stadium are said to be largely peaceful. Police have issued a renewed appeal for information in relation to ambush on West Ham fans by Italian ultras, however. “We ask citizens who were present at the attack between fans in the bar in Rytířská Street or the attack on the policeman in 28 Ríjna Street and filmed the incidents on their MT to contact us via the emergency line,” officers said.

08:37 PM

36 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Biraghi is patched up with a violet bandage and takes the corner to the near post but West Ham defend it well as a PA announcement begs the West Ham fans to behave themselves. Or the few morons rather.

08:34 PM

33 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Biraghi is being pelted by West Ham fans throwing plastic pint pots when he was trying to take a corner and he has a nasty cut on his head. He was hit by three of the five thrown.

Declan Rice goes over to speak to the West Han fans.

Biraghi hurt - REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

Biraghi hurt – REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

Tom Morgan reports from Prague

Ugly scenes from West Ham supporters as Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi is left blooded after dozens of plastic pint cups and a vape are thrown at him as he attempts to take a corner. The vape caused a nasty gash on the back of his head and the match was halted for two minutes as medics were brought on to bandage him. The referee also ushered the Italian players away from the Hammers end. Play was eventually resumed after the stadium announcer appealed to the supporters: “Stop throwing objects onto the pitch immediately – please respect the players and officials.”

The mood had turned in the West Ham end in the minutes prior to the incident as they had taken issues with some dubious decisions by  Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande.

08:33 PM

31 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

‘You’re not fit to referee’ echoes around the Fortuna when Benrahma is booked for diving. But it was a blatant dive and after he had used all his skill to diddle Bonaventura and throw himself over Milenkovic who didn’t commit to a tackle.

08:31 PM

29 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Amrabat intercepts Bowne’s cross but it spins off the top of his head and loops up. Soucek, devastating in the air, tries to get there to apply the coup de grace but Gonzalez uses his strength to hold him off and Terracciano gathers it safely.

08:29 PM

27 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

West Ham change it, from Antonio coming short to them going long and getting him to run the channels. He claims he is brought down by Milenkovic, and it looks as though he was. Should have had a free-kcik, but the ref tells him to get up and lets play continue. David Moyes bolts out of his seat to protest

08:28 PM

25 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Milenkovic wriggles free in the box, meets the corner unimpeded and bullets a free header over the bar from 12 yards. Had to score.

08:26 PM

24 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Antonio fails to make the ball stick at his feet again and Milenkovic dispossesses him. Fiorentina move forward quickly through Kouame but good defending and an outrageous slice from Dodo when the opportunity to shoot finally came, allowed West Ham to escape with a corner.

West Ham's Jarrod Bowen, left, challenges for the ball with Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi during the Europa Conference League final soccer match between Fiorentina and West Ham - AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen, left, challenges for the ball with Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi during the Europa Conference League final soccer match between Fiorentina and West Ham – AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

08:23 PM

21 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Jovic is found in the box and, as befits a £60m striker (albeit a £60m flop), he leaves Emerson trailing with a dip of the shoulder to work a shooting chance 15 yards out on the right. Aguerd makes the block. West Ham need to hold the ball, find some composure. Wait for the counter that’s bound to come rather than trying to counter whenever they have the ball. Patience required.

08:20 PM

19 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiorentina are exploiting the fact that when they have possession and start to probe, Bowen, Paqueta and Benrahma retreat and leave them half the field to mount attacks from.

08:19 PM

17 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Coufal finds Antonio in his old position on the right wing. Antonio bullocks past Biraghi but then goes down when he pushes the ball ahead of him and too close to Ranieri, claiming a foul. The ref waves play on and Paqueta picks it up and has another go down the right, 25 yards out, but Biraghi gets back to stop him.

 Declan Rice of West Ham United reacts during the UEFA Europa Conference League - Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Declan Rice of West Ham United reacts during the UEFA Europa Conference League – Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

08:15 PM

16 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Scratch that. The replay shows that Rice didn’t make a clean connection at all. Apologies.

08:15 PM

15 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Coufal works the throw to the edge of the box where it’s flicked on for Rice to shoot from 20 yards. He makes a very clean connection but there’s a lot of violet traffic between him and the goal and he flashes the shot wide.

08:13 PM

13 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Bowen exploits a misplaced pass to drive down the right to the byline but doesn’t pick his head up early enough to see Paqueta’s run and stands it up for a well-marked Antonio instead. Fiorentina clear it for a throw-in.

08:12 PM

11 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiorentina have all sorts of tactical tweaks in their armoury, splitting the centre-backs for Amrabat to step between them as a sweeper, JOvic going left and using Bonaventura as a false nine, Milenkovic stepping into midfield to make it 3-3-1-3.

08:10 PM

9 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Antonio loses the ball when he needed to hold it and wait for Paqueta and Benrahma. Fiorentina shift it up to Jovic who turns it five yards back to Mandragora, 25 yards out, and he thumps a left-foot shot maybe a yard wide of the top-right corner. Sweetly struck but needed more precision.

08:08 PM

7 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiorentina are sweeping passes around the back four and then trigger an attack, launching a long left to right diagonal for Gonzalez that sails out of play.

08:07 PM

5 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Gonzalez and his manager, Italiano, wanted a penalty. claiming Rice elbowed the winger but he didn’t and so it wasn’t a pen. Nothing like one.

08:06 PM

Sam Dean reports from Prague

Much has been made of the size of the stadium here in Prague, with so many supporters unable to get hold of tickets, so it’s probably worth noting that there are lots of empty seats in the Fiorentina half of the ground.

08:05 PM

3 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Long delay while Fiorentina fuss over a free-kick in the left-back position. When they eventually take it, Fiorentina switch to the right and send Gonzalez down the right, beating Emerson but Rice recovers for him and gets between the winger and the ball on the byline, catching him in the face with his hand but stripping the ball away and taking it away from danger.

08:02 PM

1 min Fiorentina 0 West Ham 0

Fiorentina, who play with a very high press, attack up the left with Kouame who feeds it into Bonaventura who is surrounded, back to goal, 20 yards out but he spins and clatters his shot into Soucek. The ball rebounds to Paqueta who launches a rapid counter and switches to Antonio down the inside-left and he lets fly. Terraciano could have thrown his cap on it.

08:00 PM

The referee has made his final checks

A young girl brings on the ball and they’re about to kick off. Seems to be raining now.

07:59 PM

Prague has always been the home of hair metal in the east

And so it proved in the pre-match entertainment:

Performers hold guitars during the opening ceremony ahead of the Europa Conference League final soccer match between Fiorentina and West Ham - AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Performers hold guitars during the opening ceremony ahead of the Europa Conference League final soccer match between Fiorentina and West Ham – AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

07:56 PM

Out come the teams

West Ham have the Fanta spill shirts but have opted for white shorts and socks rather than going Dutch.

07:56 PM

West Ham’s last European final match-winner

Was Alan Sealey, who scored twice against 1860 Munich in 1965. He was the uncle of Les Sealey, whose posthumous memoirs were featured here on Telegraph Sport last week.

07:53 PM

A final word from the sponsors

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07:51 PM

Moyes on why he changed his full-backs

It was a difficult decision. Thilo Kehrer and Aaron Cresswell have played really well, so it was a tough call. But I felt Coufal and Emerson will go forward, they’re good in attack, and they can supply crosses and balls into the box.

 

I’m surprised Ogbonna didn’t come into the side. Always thought him and Aguerd were the best two centre-backs at the club.

07:45 PM

Sam Dean reports from Prague

Should Fiorentina be feared? Short answer: yes. The Italians have scored 36 goals in 14 games in the Europa Conference League this season, at least five more than any other team in European competitions. They have also attempted the most shots (261) and recorded the most shots on target (94) of any team in European competitions this season. Expect West Ham to soak up the pressure and counter-attack at pace.

07:44 PM

Kit watch

Fiorentina are the ‘home’ side and hence will don the viola. West Ham, consequently, will be in their third, major-chicken-tikka-masala-spillage away kit:

West Ham dressing room - Thomas Eisenhuth/UEFA via Getty Images

West Ham dressing room – Thomas Eisenhuth/UEFA via Getty Images

07:30 PM

A dispatch from the West Ham fan zone

07:27 PM

David Moyes speaks

The most pointless of all TV conventions, the late pre-kick-off manager interview.

I believe we’re fresh coming into the game, the players are in good spirits. We’re ready and hopefully the players can show it. We’re really excited to be here in the final, it’s a great achievement for the players but now we want the bigger step. We want to win it. There’s a huge West Ham crowd here and we want to win it for them. We’re up against a good opponent, a good possession side, but most of all I hope we can do what we’ve done in the previous rounds [and put on a good show].

07:23 PM

Tom Morgan reports from Prague

There are hundreds of ticketless West Ham fans outside the stadium perimeter, some expressing frustration at a lack of touts. Stewards have been asking those without seats head to head to the city’s fanzone.

Prague police appear to be operating a slick operation compared to the chaos of other finals in recent years. Temporary metal fencing snaking along the main road has been erected outside to slow the footfall and it appears to be working. After the trouble in the city centre earlier, there is also a significant presence of riot officers keeping an eye on potential troublemakers.

The mood among the West Ham fans is buoyant, however. The stadium remains only two thirds full 45 minutes from kick-off, but they are in fine voice.

07:23 PM

West Ham’s players were asked what this means to them

07:20 PM

Fiorentina’s Nicolas Gonzalez

Was a stalwart of Argentina’s Copa America side and was due to start for them at the World Cup but had to withdraw with injury three days before the tournament started … and had to watch at home as all his team-mates and his replacement, Angel Correa, become world champions.

07:12 PM

‘One more year? One more year, Declan Rice?’

By Sam Dean in Prague

West Ham fans have heavily outnumbered Fiorentina supporters in Prague over the past two days and many of those who were fortunate enough to secure tickets were inside the ground early tonight. There were more than two hours to go until kick-off when the chants started.

West Ham’s players and coaches arrived early, too. They didn’t want to take any risks and the bus journey, we’re told, was quicker than expected.

There’s been plenty of time for them to kill, then. What has been going through the minds of the players over the past hour? And what must Declan Rice be thinking right now? His last game for the club is his biggest game for the club. There will be a lot of emotions coursing through that powerful body but he must maintain his composure tonight.

07:05 PM

When in Prague …

West Ham fans on the pints - Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

West Ham fans on the pints – Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

07:01 PM

As reported

There has been sporadic fighting in Prague today:

06:52 PM

A word from our sponsors

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06:49 PM

Team news in purely traditional style

Fiorentina Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Ranieri, Biraghi; Bonaventura, Amrabat, Mandrogara; Gonzalez, Jovic, Kouame.
Substitutes Cerofolini, Saponara, Cabral, Ikone, Terzic, Venuti, Martinez Quarta, Duncan, Bianco, Barak, Brekalo, Igor.

West Ham  Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma; Antonio.
Substitutes  Fabianski, Johnson, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Kehrer, Potts, Fornals, Lanzini, Downes, Cornet, Ings, Mubama.

Referee Carlos del Cerro (Spain).

06:43 PM

Moyes welcomes chance to emulate Scottish immortals

By Sam Dean in Prague

David Moyes described West Ham United’s Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina as the “biggest moment” of his coaching career as he aims to become the first British manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to win a major European trophy.

Victory in Prague would also represent the first major honour of the 60-year-old’s managerial career and, speaking in Prague on Tuesday night, he admitted that it was “surreal” to be leading his players out on such a stage.

Moyes is hoping to join the ranks of legendary Scottish managers, including Ferguson, Jock Stein and Sir Matt Busby, who have triumphed in Europe.

“I have had a really good career, coaching since I was 34 or 35 years old, with over 1,000 games in football and 600 in the Premier League, been in some finals and some promotions but this is the biggest moment,” said Moyes. “It is for any coach, new or old.

“It is slightly surreal. I have watched a lot of football, all the big games, and was part of Uefa’s technical committee. But to turn up today as a manager and have your own dressing room, knowing that your team is performing here, is a big thrill for me.”

Moyes did not want to answer questions about the future of captain Declan Rice, who is expected to make his final appearance for West Ham before leaving this summer, and insisted that the club’s entire focus is on winning their first trophy in 43 years.

West Ham fans - MARTIN DIVISEK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

West Ham fans – MARTIN DIVISEK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Victory would confirm the manager’s place in West Ham’s history but he said he is not motivated by the thought of being considered a club legend. “I would just like to be known as a football manager who is serious about his job and tries to do the best he possibly can,” he said.

Moyes comes into the game with ongoing speculation over his own future, having been on the brink of the sack on numerous occasions this season. In an interview with the Evening Standard, he made it clear that he wants to stay at the London Stadium beyond this campaign.

“There are too many good things about what we have done, what we should still try and do, to stop now,” said Moyes. “I see things that I would like to change, to do things slightly differently, but right now there is nothing in my head except: how do we win this final?”

Wednesday’s final represents a homecoming for West Ham duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, who both played in the Eden Arena for Slavia Prague before moving to east London.

“When I realised one year ago that the final was in Prague, for me it was like ‘come on guys, we have to go there,’” said Soucek, who could have joined Fiorentina ahead of his transfer to the Premier League in 2020. “Now we are here, I can connect the two teams that I love.”

Fiorentina finished eighth in Serie A this season but have impressed in the Europa Conference League, scoring 36 goals in 14 matches — at least five more than any other team in European competitions. They have also attempted the most shots of any team in Europe this season.

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