Europa League
Lyon 0-3 West Ham United 

Thursday, 14th April 2022
by Chris Wilkerson

It’s the semi-finals of the Europa League for West Ham United as David Moyes’s side thrashed Lyon 3-0 away at the Groupama Stadium.

Say it again. It?EUR(TM)s the semi-finals, a 4-1 aggregate win over Lyon putting West Ham through for a two-legged tie with Eintracht Frankfurt. History repeats itself, 1976 revisited.

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There were four changes from the dramatic first leg, with Johnson, Diop, Coufal and Lanzini replacing Cresswell, Zouma, Fredericks and Benrahma.

It wasn?EUR(TM)t the best of starts, Lyon finding space in the West Ham half and looking dangerous.

They could have taken the lead inside five minutes, Ekambi striking the base of the post having found space in the box and manoeuvred himself before firing low. Areola was beaten, but the ball fizzed away and Hammers breathed a sigh of relief.

It was a scare, and Lyon took confidence from it. This is a team that can play, neat and attractive users of the ball and the French side controlled possession.

As the away side grew into it, Lyon had the threat to push forward and use the space left behind. A cross from the right was put beautifully into the space between goalkeeper and defence, finding Dembele at the back post. It bounced, it bobbled, it hit bodies but eventually got cleared. Dembele screamed for a penalty, a wasted scream.

In attack, Antonio was a giant. The ground he covered, the battles he fought, the flicks he won. Had Lanzini gambled on one such occasion, the Argentine would have been in for a massive chance.

What West Ham never did was panic. Lanzini and Fornals played their games, Antonio ran the centre backs ragged, Rice and Soucek dared push forward. Lyon pushed them back for a good portion of the half, but they could never overwhelm their visitors.

Staying in it was important, and this team knows how to handle the rough parts of the game and earn their place in it. They were unlucky not to get more from a brilliant piece of work from Antonio down the left, curling it to the far post just a little too far ahead of Bowen. The winger got contact but could only force it wide.

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There was one last moment where Lyon threatened, a chance that fell to Ekambi in the box, middle of goal and all alone. Instead of taking it in, the cross smashed off his thighs and to safety.

It was the end of their grasp on the game and the tie.

A long ball forward was won once again by Antonio. His chest down to Bowen was perfect and the winger's shot was deflected wide. Fornals stepped up, curled it to the near post and it was Craig Dawson running through like a gazelle to then leap high and hammer his header home from two yards out, down into the bottom corner and into the West Ham history books.

With just over five minutes remaining of the half, you could be sure every West Ham fan was urging caution, desperate to see out the half.

But the players scented blood, their prey there for the taking. Soucek and Rice stayed high, West Ham pressed hard and looked to keep Lyon unsettled. A clever freekick routine should have come to more, Soucek darting round to the back post and heading across goal, only to just miss the runners darting in.

The half wasn't to end on that note though. With a minute remaining, Ben Johnson won the ball back in the Lyon half and played it into Lanzini. The full back didn't stop there, overlapping down the left and getting the ball back once more. His cross was behind Antonio, but only cleared to the edge of the box.

Up stepped Rice, who controlled, gathered himself and tried to place the ball into the corner. It wasn't his best effort, but it didn't matter, a Lyon defender deflected it off course only yards from goal and beating his own goalkeeper. It was 2-0 West Ham, it was dreamland, it was West Ham United.

And it was 2-0 at half time as West Ham took complete control of the tie. Lyon reacted, Bosz sending on Paqueta - who tested both positive and negative for COVID today - and new signing Tet?? in an attempt to force a way back into the game.

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The quality of changes was never found out as West Ham went again three minutes into the second half. This time it was Fornals and Bowen, the Spaniard firing a first-time pass with his left foot through to Bowen, and finding the forward in acres of space.

Bowen ran at goal, kept away from his defender and fired into the bottom corner with his right foot to give West Ham a three-goal lead in Lyon. There's some sentences you don't ever expect you'll get to write.

Lyon were done. Whatever threat they may have, suddenly you could really see a team wallowing in midtable in Ligue 1. The praise for their passing football was merited in the first half, but there was nothing else. When the tempo needed to change, when the issue had to be forced, Lyon played the same way. West Ham kept a strong shape and gave them nothing. There were half chances from crosses into the box, yet Areola was tested only once, and it was a good, but comfortable save. Craig Dawson was not letting them score, that much was clear. The Ballon Dawson was carved into legend.

On came Noble, on came Yarmolenko, and the message was clear from the bench: do not let them settle. The captain was pressing high, pushing his side forward and honing in on how uncomfortable the hosts were when West Ham pressed them high.

You knew it was won when Moyes took Rice off for Benrahma, protecting the England midfielder on a yellow card. When even the Moyesiah is relaxing...

And so it was done, West Ham with a quite magnificent performance to truly earn their way into a European semi-final. Look back at week to the battling heroics of ten men at home. The character of this group pulls it through much more than your flash players and your marquee signings.

And a note of credit, too, to the away fans. What a representation it was.

All these words, they could come through tears. West Ham have made it to the last four of the Europa League. Massive.

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. We're going to Germany...

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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 10/10
What are you even going to question?! The starting team was the right one, the little changes in the game were right, his players knew their roles and they performed. Substitutions may have been simple, but they were sent on with the message to not just drop off and hope to see it out. It might not have mattered, but it was exactly the right decision and tone. Thrilled for him.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
It's a compliment to the team that they can win away in Europe and have the goalkeeper given a generally average rating. One good save.

Vladimir Coufal
Solid in defence, one Ekambi trick aside that truly sent him, and a presence down the flank going forward. Steady and unspectacular, but consistent and reliable.

Ben Johnson
The dart down the line after winning the ball back was game-changing, and should be a reminder to him that he can be a complete full back.

Issa Diop
Deserves as much credit as anyone, even those who played better, because coming into this side with the expectation it had and the relatively difficult performance against Brentford, then an early yellow card. You could have seen Diop crumble, but he didn't. The resilience he has will hold him in good stead. Some big headers at the back and the second most successful pass completion in the team.

Craig Dawson
The Ballon D'awson. His defending was exemplary, his goal perfect. Harsher critics will mark him down for his passing, but not this reporter. Superb. Man of the match.

Declan Rice
A couple of loose touches, but otherwise a sensational performance. His goal caps it off, but he was quietly brilliant as the shield. Let others talk about assists and goals, Dec can be the best in the world in that role guarding the defence. Any doubts about his 10/10 were silenced by his post-match interview and Twitter feed.

Tomas Soucek
He wasn't at his best in the first half of the first leg, really only looking good when he was throwing himself about defensively. Today, you wouldn't know he had been troubled by Lyon previously. Brave pushing forward, a superb partnership with Rice.

Pablo Fornals
His pass completion being in the 60% area should not allow a 10, but Jack can get the finer details (and he always does, so excellently). But two assists, the vision and delivery of that pass to Bowen in particular. He works so hard, he's back defending one second and then you see him leading the press or chasing down lost balls.

Jarrod Bowen
When you wanted Jarrod Bowen to be there, there he was. Having a quiet game isn't really a problem for him, he will still make those runs and try and be close to Antonio. It works. Took his goal very well on his weaker foot. That's the Jarrod Bowen England need.

Manuel Lanzini
He's had better games on the ball, but his work rate was exceptional. He and Fornals are on a wavelength, and it included some smart switches of position between the two.

Michail Antonio
What a front line he is on his own. When the others weren't getting into the game, when Lyon had a grip on it, Antonio came to the fore and refused to let his side be pushed down. He won balls with physicality and brains, making lay-offs and making things happen. Often, if he doesn't score, his selfless work goes unnoticed by the negative few. It won't tonight.


Mark Noble
(Replaced Lanzini, 76) A 10 just for being Mark Noble in a winning West Ham team in a Europa League quarter-final.

Andriy Yarmolenko
(Replaced Antonio, 84) Not that he had a lot to do, but credit to him for coming on and working hard, pressing and making a nuisance of himself.

Said Benrahma
(Replaced Rice, 90) Not on long enough to be noticed.

Lukasz Fabianski
Did not play.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Ryan Fredericks
Did not play.

Ajibola Alese
Did not play.

Arthur Masuaku
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, Vladimir Coufal, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Craig Dawson 35 Declan Rice 44 Jarrod Bowen 48              .

Booked: Issa Diop 21 Pablo Fornals 85        .

Sent off: None.

Lyon: Pollersback, Gusto, Denayer (Reine-Adelaïde 89), Lukeba, Emerson, Mendes, Faivre (Paqueta 46), Toko Ekambi, Aouar (B Barcola 71), Ndombele (Tete 46), Dembele.

Subs not used: M Barcola, Bonnevie, Kadewere, Henrique, Dubois, Keïta, Da Silva, Boateng.

Goals: .

Booked: B Barcola (81).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Sandro Schärer.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Craig Dawson.