I don’t know how I can put into words what I’m feeling right now. I have supported West Ham since 1974. I was 12 when we won the cup in 1975. I was 17 when we won it again five years later. Since then, we have reached out on several occasions. I was in Cardiff when we beat Liverpool in 2006. It’s a game I still feel like we won, in my own mind.
Tonight, she was full of foreboding. That line in BubblesL “Like my dreams, they fade and die” was foremost on my mind. He was devastated, he wasn’t there, but a broken hip meant he couldn’t go, and even if he could have gone, he didn’t have a ticket. But boy, now I understand all those who left without a ticket. What a night they must have lived, wherever they watched the game in Prague.
I was surprised that Emerson got the nod on Cresswell, and I was a bit surprised that Benrahma got the nod on Fornals. But in such decisions, the parties can rest. If Fornals had started, Benrahma would not have taken the penalty, and who knows what might have happened then.
We all knew that Fiorentina would dominate possession and that’s what happened. They had 69% possession in the first half and just a couple percent less in the second half. But in the first half he did not have a single shot on goal with all his possession. However, the disallowed goal in the 45th minute proved that the second half would be just as challenging.
Defensively we were outstanding. It was in the center of the field where we found problems. We kept losing possession too easily. Jarrod Bowen could barely see down the right and Antonio got nothing from a referee who seemed all too willing to indulge in the dirty tricks of some of the Fiorentina players.
And the penalty came. At first glance, it seemed like the decision could go either way, but BT’s commentary team seemed convinced it was a handball that pushed the ball away from Bowen and, in the end, the referee agreed. Benrahma was as cool as a cucumber and hit the ball into the top right of the net. Pure joy. Well, for a few minutes at least.
Fiorentina hit back with a brilliant goal and West Ham looked as if the padding had been taken out of them. We fought for possession but started to look a bit more dangerous as full time approached. Paquetá then passed a ball to Jarrod Bowen, who got past one on one. Was he offside? I banished those thoughts from my mind when he hit the ball over the goalie into the net. Ecstasy. There were two minutes to go. Surely even West Ham couldn’t shoot like this. Could? In truth, they never seemed to. Despite the fact that the referee added almost 9 minutes when the board had shown 5.
I don’t remember ever seeing such exultant scenes at a final whistle. It’s easy to explain. Clubs like Man City or Liverpool are used to winning things. I almost do things like that, clubs are immune to that. Of course, his fans are happy, but they have grown used to waiting for him. We never have. It doesn’t happen in clubs like ours, so when it happens, it’s very special. It could not only be seen on the faces of the fans, but also on the players. And the manager. This was a tremendous personal victory for David Moyes and surely no one can seriously believe that he should not be our manager next season. He’s back from the brink and he deserves credit for that.
I’d love to think this win could mean we can hang on to Declan Rice for another season, but that’s really entering fantasy land. He was willing to have her announce that he would stay in their post-game interview. I still think he’s genuinely torn, but it’s almost inevitable that he’s leaving. But if it is, it must be for a sum of not less than £100 million.
What a pity that this game was played in a stadium with a capacity of less than 20,000. A bad decision from UEFA. Hopefully, they’ll learn from that.
This is a night that all West Ham fans will remember for the rest of their lives. I know I will. I refuse to believe that we will not experience it again. When we moved to the Olympic Stadium in 2016, there was a lot of talk about West Ham going to the next level. Surely, this victory shows that we have now achieved it. We are in the Europa League again next season. Apart from the Big 4, which other teams can say that they have been in Europe for three consecutive years. Tottenham certainly can’t. Neither did Chelsea.
It’s a good time to be a Hammer. Let’s enjoy and be proud of our team, our club and our fans.
Come on irons!