West Ham overcame an almost 60-year wait for a European trophy when Jarrod Bowen’s late-game goal secured a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.
Bowen raced on to Lucas Paqueta’s brilliant pass in the 90th minute and slotted a shot past Pietro Terracciano to earn the Hammers a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in Prague on Wednesday.
The win secured West Ham’s first piece of silverware since the 1980 FA Cup and their first European trophy in 58 years.
Bowen told BT Sport: “You always say you want to score in the last minute and to do it here in front of these fans. I thought I was going to cry”.
“I’m so happy. We haven’t had the best season, myself included, but to do it tonight, I’m over the moon,” he said.
“I think in my position you make that run 10 times you might get that ball once. As soon as you get it you’ve got to put it away.”
Bowen had earlier won the penalty from which Said Benrahma opened the scoring but Giacomo Bonaventura equalised just four minutes later for the Serie A side Fiorentina.
Fiorentina had no answer to Bowen’s goal despite nearly eight minutes of injury time being played, setting off wild celebrations among the West Ham players as they danced in front of their fans after winning the London club’s second-ever European title and the first since the old European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.
Dancing for joy! 🕺 pic.twitter.com/thBfMX3H4M
— West Ham United (@WestHam) June 7, 2023
West Ham only finished 14th in the Premier League but went unbeaten through its European campaign, coming through qualifying before winning 12 out of 13 games in the tournament. The win also means the team earns a berth in the Europa League next season.
“I’ve had a long career in football and you don’t get many moments like this,” said West Ham coach David Moyes, whose job was under threat earlier in the season as the team was struggling near the relegation zone in the league.
Moyes became the first Scottish coach to win a UEFA competition since 2008 when Alex Ferguson claimed his second Champions League title with Manchester United.
Fiorentina dominated possession in the first half and nearly took the lead just before the break when Christian Kouame’s header bounced off the post. Luka Jovic headed home the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Fiorentina has been waiting even longer than West Ham for a European title, having also won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1961.
It became the first club to reach the final in four major continental competitions and looked like it had done enough to force extra time before letting Bowen beat the offside trap to come clear through on goal.
“Tonight, I honestly didn’t imagine it could finish like this,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano said.
Vincenzo Italiano 🎙 #ForzaViola #Fiorentina #ACFFiorentina #UECLfinal pic.twitter.com/4xEMoSaAFK
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) June 7, 2023
“We played well, had chances, [and] immediately equalised after a penalty that could have finished us. We reacted, we had a great chance with Mandragora,” he said.
“Then with a ball contested in the middle, we did not make the right movement in defence, and it was all over. The lads were destroyed,” he added.
But the game and post-match celebrations were also marred with violence.
West Ham issued a statement condemning the behaviour of a section of their supporters after Fiorentina defender Cristiano Biraghi was left bleeding by an object thrown from the crowd during the match.
The game was goalless in the 35th minute when Biraghi went over to take a corner from in front of the end of the Eden Arena, where West Ham supporters were sitting. The player was struck by what appeared to be a vape pen as cups and other objects rained down on him.
Biraghi required a head strapping in order to continue after referee Carlos del Cerro Grande had briefly called a halt to the game and a stadium announcement had issued a warning for fans to stop throwing things and respect the players and officials before the match could continue.
“West Ham United unreservedly condemn the behaviour of a small number of individuals who threw objects onto the pitch during tonight’s UEFA Europa Conference League final,” the club said in the statement.
Some West Ham fans also clashed with riot police in Prague after the match on Wednesday night when a scuffle broke out after police officers tried to confiscate a lit flare as fans gathered in the Old Town area of the city. Riot police stormed a group after they lit a second flare, with fans responding by pelting the officers with bottles and other projectiles.
Earlier in the day, Czech police said they had detained at least 16 Italian fans after they attacked West Ham supporters outside a bar, with videos shared on social media showing chairs and fireworks being thrown.
Celebrations were initially good-natured after the match, with revellers hugging and kissing each other and dancing on tables in bars.
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