West Ham defeated Fiorentina 2-1 in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday, ending its 43-year absence from a significant trophy. Jarrod Bowen’s late goal for the Premier League team gave them the historic victory and set off wild celebrations inside Prague’s Fortuna Arena.
David Moyes, the manager of West Ham, exclaimed, “This is fantastic,” following the game.
“I’ve had a long career in football and you don’t get many moments like this but thankfully tonight we’ve got the result we’ve wanted.” Despite struggling for form domestically, West Ham has thrilled its fans in Europe over the last two seasons.
Although it faced elimination in the Europa League semifinals last year, the team successfully showcased a memorable performance on Wednesday, delighting its passionate fanbase.
Saïd Benrahma converted a second-half penalty to give the Hammers the lead, but Giacomo Bonaventura’s effort canceled it out seven minutes later.
As the game appeared destined for extra time, Bowen received a superb pass from Lucas Paquetá, who played him through, and he calmly finished his chance in the 90th minute.
Bowen ran to the West Ham fans with his teammates in wild celebration
“I obviously dreamed of scoring but to score the winner in the last minute … you always say you want to score a last-minute winner!” he said after the game.
“To do it in front of these fans, I thought I was going to cry. I’m just so, so happy. I can’t put it into words.”
Despite the jubilant scenes, the game was marred by fan trouble.
During the first half, a spectator from the stands threw an object at Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi just as he was about to take a corner.
After the impact to his head, Biraghi suffered a bleeding injury that necessitated medical assistance.
“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 a statement, per Reuters.
“These actions have no place in football and do not in any way represent the values of our football club and the overwhelming majority of our supporters, who have behaved impeccably in Prague this week and throughout our last two seasons in European competition.
“In line with our zero-tolerance approach, anyone identified will have their details passed to the police and will be given an indefinite ban and therefore be unable to enter London Stadium and travel with the club.”
West Ham captain Declan Rice was leading the celebrations after lifting the trophy, amid speculation around his future at the club.
Several teams have targeted the England midfielder, but he showed reluctance to discuss next season after the game.
“There is interest from other club that’s out there but I have two years left at West Ham. I love this club, I love playing for this club,” Rice told BT Sport.
“There hasn’t been anything yet, my focus is playing for West Ham, enjoying tonight and seeing what happens.”