Europa League
West Ham United 2-0 Seville 

Thursday, 17th March 2022
by Chris Wilkerson

Hold onto these moments, these nights, they don’t come about often. As extra time ended, it was West Ham who had clinched the tie, another dramatic Andriy Yarmolenko giving The Hammers the 2-0 win, the 2-1 aggregate victory and their route to the quarter finals of the Europa League.

A first half header from Tomas Soucek was enough to give his side a lead on the night and parity across the tie, but they had to wait until the 112th minute for the winner that sent a raucous London Stadium into the wildest celebrations this young ground has ever seen.

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The performance on the pitch did justice to the atmosphere created by the West Ham fans. From the bridges to their seats, this was support, passionate, visceral support. No fan was leaving that stadium without doing everything they could to roar their team on, and their desire was matched on the pitch by a team that just do not go gentle into that good night. Forgive a match reporter their whimsy; this was special.

Antonio and Cresswell shook off their weekend injuries to take their places in the team, with Benrahma retaining his place after two assists and Areola returning in goal as the man who wears the gloves on European nights.

All fears of timidity were quickly put to bed as David Moyes?EUR(TM)s side responded to the noise from the stands.

The players truly were excellent from the first whistle. They have attacked the Europa League with relish and took to their challenge without fear. For all the promise this side has and has shown under David Moyes, responding to a 1-0 aggregate deficit to the masters of Europa League football was an experience unlike any other most had even nearly faced in their careers.

But it was West Ham controlling the game for the first half, the first hour too. Benrahma was full of energy, Lanzini flitted between the lines and moved the ball with confidence, Soucek was running box-to-box with boundless energy and Declan Rice patrolled the midfield and protected his defence with calm assurance.

Sevilla are comfortable defending, you don?EUR(TM)t have their league record without that control. But West Ham prodded and probed, focusing on the left wing as ever, but often finding a switch would release Johnson into space. The crosses found little joy, however, and the best moments came when Antonio was making defenders uncomfortable.

Had there been a stronger referee, the visiting Spaniard side would have struggled to make it out of their own half, but theatrics have become part and parcel of the Spanish European experience. Just ask Atletico Madrid.

For all West Ham?EUR(TM)s pressure, the first big moment came from Sevilla. A ball from the left into the box rolled to En-Nesyri about 12 yards out and a sharply taken first-time shot was looking destined to smash into the back of the net before a fast hand was sent out by Areola and the French goalkeeper saved his side. The move down the left was delightful, Martial flicking the ball skillfully through Ben Johnson's leg for the run of Augustinsson, who cut the back to En-Nesyri. Areola had moved from his post across the goal, the opposition direction to where the shot was fired, so his instinctive reaction was all the more impressive as he stopped his weight and fired out a hand.

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The closest West Ham had come to goal was a blocked volley from Fornals, but their pressure soon amounted to a moment of real danger. It had been the telling pass that was missing, and yet on this occasion the most subtle of passes was so good it caught even the striker on his heels.

Benrahma received the ball on the edge of the box and sold every defender and forward on either side as he shaped to shoot then guided a disguised pass to the feet of Antonio. For the first time in the tie, Kounde was caught out, but Antonio looked as surprised as anyone to find the ball rolling towards him. A keener or more instinctive striker may well have read it sooner or taken it better, but the number nine took a second too long to work out his feet before shooting, and Kounde - the away side's best player again by some distance - slid back to block the shot before Gudelj cleared, beating the lurking Soucek to the rebound.

Lanzini was soon booked for a late lunge in midfield, halting a rare Sevilla break, yet the Spanish team really could not settle into any attacking rhythm. If they were happy to protect their 1-0 aggregate lead, the gameplan was torn apart six minutes before half time.

Fornals won possession with a smart interception and soon Antonio had the ball on the edge of the Sevilla box centrally. He was crowded out quickly by three defenders, but, never one to shirk a challenge, he dribbled left into space and then chipped a ball to the far post on the turn. The left-footed cross soared high towards Soucek, who rose above his man and guided a looping header back across goal and into the far corner to tear the roof off the London Stadium. As the players ran off to the corner to celebrate with the fans, over 50,000 Hammers came unglued. Delight, tension, anxiety and relief came roaring out of every West Ham fan; could this really be happening?

They went in at half time with the lead, with at least 45 minutes to play to turn that one into a two and the aggregate fully in their favour. They came out eager, waiting a minute for their opponents to turn up for the second half. It was a snapshot of the story of the game, West Ham ready and willing, Sevilla happy to halt the game where possible.

The Hammers were undeterred, Soucek stinging Bounou's palms in the Sevilla goal a minute after the restart after a fine run from Rice. If the visitors thought they had weathered the storm of energy and enthusiasm, they were sorely mistaken.

There was just an air of something about the place, a wild nature to the way West Ham play that kept Sevilla unsettled. Long gone were the memories of a week ago as the Europa League specialists showed control even in periods of the game that looked balanced. Kounde pulled the strings in Spain, and whilst he defended well here, he didn't seem to be able to run the show from defence this time around.

Maybe it was all West Ham, unshackled and riding a wave of momentum and emotion.

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As with the first half, David Moyes watched his side start brightly and run the game, yet fail to create chances. Just past the hour mark, Lanzini burst through the middle and smashed a left-footed shot at Bounou from the edge of the box. Bundling through onto the rebound, his second effort was saved on nothing but instinct by the goalkeeper once more, before Antonio was given offside going for the loose ball.

The crowd roared their side on, a five against three break in favour of the Hammers wasted as a Fornals cross found a Sevilla defender. The organisation and discipline of the Spanish side was faltering as waves of claret and blue flew forward again and again.

With 20 minutes to go, that momentum left West Ham. The wind came out of their sails and suddenly the experience of Sevilla told. Rather than feeling battered down by the barrage they had faced, they sensed their moment to go and pushed forward. A long pass down their right channel found En-Nesyri in space, and he prodded just inside the area for Corona in space. To the relief of the West Ham fans and team, his effort went flying over.

For ten to fifteen minutes, the away side were truly alive in the game for the first time. If they had planned to defend manfully until the later stages and try nick the win, and it looked a smart plan. West Ham were not quite settled into their own defensive rhythms. They pushed forwards and looked dangerous, but whilst they found space around the box and pushed the Hammers back, that Corona chance was all they produced to really threaten goal.

Two late corners were headed harmlessly and the game went to extra time. How's your nerve?

Sevilla used all six of their substitutes, whilst Moyes sent on only one. But quantity does not necessitate quality, and after his heroics at the weekend, Yarmolenko was again given the chance to rewrite the script once more.

The tension and the tired legs were nearly exposed as West Ham turned their own attack into a desperate last-ditch tackle. Lanzini chasing back a sloppy pass that Rafa Mir, fresh off the bench, seemed destined to sprint onto. The lunge in could have seen him sent off, but the Argentine had to make it, and make it he did.

That chance was snuffed out, and West Ham went again. For the first time, a good corner was swung in. Dawson got up to get it, heading down and across goal to the far post. His header was bouncing wide, but Soucek was after it. The towering Czech midfielder stretched and threw himself at the header, but the angle defeated him and he could only head into the sidenetting.

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A strong first-half of extra time was all the energy West Ham's players needed in their legs. Sevilla had changed six of their ten outfield players, yet they never looked brighter than the hosts. Thirty seconds into the second-half of extra time, Rice blazed an effort high and wide of goal, but the tone was set once more.

Minutes later, Antonio led a West Ham counter and had only to square a pass across the pitch to find Fornals and roll the Spaniard in on goal. Having done well to force two defenders to chase him to the right, his pass was poor and rolled easily to the goalkeeper, with Fornals in acres of space.

Into the last ten minutes, the awful spectre of penalties loomed over the game. But if Sunday seemed like a fitting story for an emotional figure, Thursday night was true Hollywood.

A smart pass from Lanzini on the right found Fornals in space on the left. He cut inside and curled a shot low to the far corner of goal. Bounou was stretched and could only parry out into the box. Who else was going to be there? The man with ice in his veins was there yet again, the embattled Andriy Yarmolenko at the ready to pass the ball into the back of the net and send West Ham into dreamland. The place erupted, the celebrations unmatched in any time since the London Stadium has been standing, Olympics or otherwise.

2-0 on the night, 2-1 on aggregate and eight minutes to go. Noble was brought on for Lanzini and West Ham looked to see out the tie. Balls were held in the corner, big clearances were cheered like goals. Diop was thrown on, and even Fredericks, but Sevilla had nothing to beat the monster performance from West Ham.

There was nothing left to say. On the greatest night in this stadium's history, West Ham wrote another chapter in their European football story. 1-0 down after the first leg, against the team second in La Liga and with a defence that are rarely beaten, West Ham were through to the quarter finals of the Europa League having beaten Sevilla from pillar to post in this second leg. The Spaniards had shaded the first match, but this tie was West Ham's. David Moyes's side were excellent here and progress was a richly deserved reward for a truly memorable display.

You will all have friends and family to look at and revel in this with. And for those who have gone, they will have heard this and felt this wherever they are.

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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 9/10
His big call was Areola, which he took last time anyway, and then the recent change to the 4-1-4-1 out of possession. Rice's position has worked, Areola made a fantastic save, his substitute scored the winner. And his side beat Sevilla in the Europa League. What a man.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
One big moment, one massive save. With every part of him flying in the opposite direction to the ball, getting such a strong hand out to a powerfully hit shot was just instinctively brilliant. Some good claims later too, a performance that could well convince the club to sign him at the end of this season.

Ben Johnson
Anthony Martial was a non-entity. Johnson was still a touch tentative on the ball, but his defending is exemplary. Whilst his game has that room for improvement, his defensive basics are excellent and he goes about his defending with a maturity beyond his years.

Aaron Cresswell
Didn't find enough with his deliveries and really could have been a better attacking influence. Not sure he looked fully fit. You won't find anyone with a poor mark, this side just beat Sevilla.

Kurt Zouma
He has been better on the ball, but took command at the back as the game went later and suddenly Sevilla decided they needed to attack consistently. Still, there were a couple of lapses where strikers drifted off his shoulder and he was a little lost.

Craig Dawson
One nice, cynical foul early on was the most Dawson seemed to be stretched. Sevilla did have chances, but when the Spaniards really stepped up and tried to put concerted pressure on the West Ham backline, they stood up to it well.

Declan Rice
A fantastic performance only let down by some quite appalling shooting. The team looks so much more assured when Dec sits deep, and you can see why. Those defenders must be begging the manager to sit Rice there in any and every game, he just makes their game easier and gives everyone else the confidence to attack. Sevilla knew he was good, they always wanted to know where Rice was and didn't have the confidence to go at Rice like others.

Tomas Soucek
A quite fantastic performance. The biggest goal threat, that crucial first goal, endless running up and down, box-to-box, combining an attacking edge with the gritty fight he always gives defending. You'll find others with more grace and style, but will they do the miles, the graft, the work of Soucek? Defends from the front well too, a sharp interception winning the ball in the Sevilla half for the Antonio chance.

Pablo Fornals
Industrious and irrepressible. It was a 7 until that shot forced Bounou to pass it up nicely for Yarmolenko to tuck in. He was probably better as a defender, on the front foot and tracking back, than he was on the ball. He was by no means sloppy, just not as sharp as he has been in the past.

Saïd Benrahma
Sevilla were not comfortable against Benrahma and he felt much more a part of the team performance than his games where he is on the edges, doing things a bit differently to the rest. The pass to Antonio is why you buy Benrahma; inventive and delivered with subtlety. Defended on the front foot well too.

Manuel Lanzini
The usual neat and tidy Lanzini performance, with moments of threat as he created the early Fornals chance and hit two stinging shots at Bounou. A silly yellow sees him suspended for the quarter finals, but on that booking he made a fantastic saving challenge late into the game when the fresh legs of Rafa Mir were chasing a ball into the West Ham half. And then the pass across the edge of the box to Fornals in the move for the last goal was a fantastic example of his vision and composure under pressure.

Michail Antonio
Jekyll and Hyde, Mr Antonio. Pretty much everything good from West Ham going forward involved Antonio. A wonderful assist, good forward play for the second goal too. But some classic Antonio moments, making the sublime look simple and the simple look beyond his grasp.


Andriy Yarmolenko
(Replaced Benrahma, 87) It's an open goal, but the composure is why he has been an elite goalscorer across his career. He did well wasting time and you can see that he should have been given more time off the bench in games where we need a goal.

Mark Noble
(Replaced Lanzini, 114) Did a good job wasting time and disrupting things in the middle. Plus it was Mark Noble on the pitch as West Ham beat Sevilla in Europe, he's getting a rating.

Issa Diop
(Replaced Fornals, 118) Brought on to waste a vital few seconds.

Ryan Fredericks
(Replaced Antonio, 120) Brought on to waste a vital few seconds.

Lukas Fabianski
Did not play.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Arthur Masuaku
Did not play.

Ajibola Alese
Did not play. Also unused subs: Dan Chesters, Nikola Vlasic, Sonny Perkins

Alex Kral
Did not play. Also unused subs: Dan Chesters, Nikola Vlasic, Sonny Perkins

Match Facts

West Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Ben Johnson, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Craig Dawson, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Pablo Fornals, Saïd Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Tomas Soucek 39 Andriy Yarmolenko 112                .

Booked: Lanzini 0          .

Sent off: None.

Seville: Bono, Navas (Montiel 105), Kounde, Gudelj (Carmona 111), Augustinsson, Jordan, Delaney, Rakitic (Torres 56), Corona (Munir 96), En-Nesyri, Martial (Luismi 101).

Subs not used: Dmitrovic, Flores, Rafa Mir, Romero, Zarzana, Scotta, Salas.

Goals: .

Booked: Montiel.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Clement Turpin.

Attendance: 60,000.

Man of the Match: Tomas Soucek.