West Ham United Are Europa Conference League Champions (1 Viewer)

In Prague this evening, West Ham United emerged as the champions of the Europa Conference League, securing a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina.

The winning goal came in the 90th minute, courtesy of Jarrod Bowen, igniting euphoria among the traveling West Ham supporters. Bowen expertly finished a precise through ball delivered by Lucas Paqueta.

Said Benrahma had initially given the Hammers the lead from a penalty in the 60th minute. However, their advantage was short-lived as Giacomo Bonaventura cleverly struck back for Fiorentina shortly after. Nevertheless, Bowen's late winner not only marked a significant triumph for David Moyes, his first major managerial honor, but also West Ham's first major title since 1980.

Fiorentina, on the other hand, suffered their fourth consecutive loss in European finals, with their previous defeat dating back to 1990. This season, Vincenzo Italiano's team experienced disappointment in two major finals, including a defeat to Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia.

Both managers surprised observers with their lineup choices. Italiano opted to start Luka Jovic instead of Conference League joint-top scorer Arthur Cabral, while also selecting Christian Kouame over Jonathan Ikone.

Moyes made changes to both full-back positions compared to the successful semi-final against AZ Alkmaar. He chose Czech native Vladimir Coufal and Italian international Emerson over Thilo Kehrer and Aaron Cresswell.

In the opening minutes of the game, Fiorentina took an early lead in a similar fashion to the Coppa Italia final two weeks prior. However, West Ham had the first notable chance as Michail Antonio's low strike tested Pietro Terracciano's goalkeeping skills.

During the first half, La Viola dominated proceedings and came close to scoring when Rolando Mandragora's long-range effort missed the target. Nikola Milenkovic also had an opportunity from a dangerous corner delivered by Cristiano Biraghi but headed over the crossbar.

A significant incident occurred from another Biraghi corner when West Ham supporters threw plastic cups and lighters, with one of the projectiles hitting the left-back and causing a severe cut and profuse bleeding. Nicolas Gonzalez managed to catch a cup aimed at him, while a female assistant referee was struck in the leg by a stray throw.

The referee momentarily paused the game to address both teams, consult with the fourth official, and provide medical attention to Biraghi's injury. Additionally, the West Ham supporters were warned through the stadium's public address system.

On the field, West Ham relied mainly on set pieces for scoring opportunities in the first half. Declan Rice failed to test Terracciano after Fiorentina struggled to clear a long throw, and later, Rice saw another effort blocked following Kouame's clearance mishap from a corner.

Due to the crowd trouble, the first half extended into stoppage time. In those extra minutes, Fiorentina believed they had taken the lead when Kouame's header struck the post, allowing Jovic to bundle the ball into the net. However, the goal was disallowed due to an offside decision by the linesman.

Despite Fiorentina's dominance in territorial control during the first half, West Ham received a golden opportunity in the 60th minute. Biraghi was penalized for a handball in the box after a VAR review, and Benrahma made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Terracciano the wrong way and giving the Hammers a crucial lead.

The exuberant celebrations that ensued put Benrahma at risk of receiving a second yellow card as he jumped into the crowd. Earlier in the match, the winger had already been booked for diving.

Following the goal, Moyes

' side took control of the game. However, Fiorentina's substitute Cabral was denied a goal by an excellent block from Kehrer, who had recently entered the field.

With the West Ham supporters chanting enthusiastically, Fiorentina silenced them when Bonaventura's superb close control, assisted by Gonzalez's knockdown, created space for a shot that found the far corner of the net, leaving Alphonse Areola with no chance.

The match transformed into a more typical Fiorentina style under Italiano, with an intense and attacking approach that breathed life into the game. Antonio had a one-on-one opportunity but missed the target and was flagged offside. Moments later, Mandragora fired a shot wide for Fiorentina after a good display of hold-up play by Cabral.

As the game approached its conclusion, Fiorentina appeared fatigued. With just seconds left in regulation time, Paqueta's through ball caught La Viola's defense off guard, enabling Bowen to maintain his composure and beat Terracciano in a one-on-one situation, ultimately sealing a historic victory.

Despite almost eight minutes of added time, West Ham held on to their lead, leading to ecstatic scenes among their claret and blue-clad fans. Consequently, the Hammers were crowned as the second-ever champions of the Europa Conference League.

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