West Ham United ended their 47-year wait for a major European title, after defeating Italian Serie A side ACF Fiorentina 2-1 in the Final of the 2022/2023 UEFA Europa Conference League, which took place at Eden Park in Prague, Czech Republic.
The opening period was evenly contested though the Hammers did a bit more defensively, in a bid to thwart the offensive tactics of Fiorentina.
The game was momentarily stopped for a while after the half-hour mark, when Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi was injured in the head after the West Ham United supporters threw objects (plastic cups) onto the pitch.
The Italian side thought they had the lead when striker Luka Jovic found the back of the net, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside by the VAR.
In the second half, it was West Ham United who got their noses in front. Ranieri handled the ball in the area which led to the Hammers being awarded a spot-kick. Algerian international Said Benrahma stepped up and scored to give manager David Moyes’ side the advantage.
Their lead didn’t last long as Giacomo Bonaventura levelled for Fiorentina in the 67th minute, following a smart touch and finish. Bonaventura became the oldest Italian player to score in a major European Final, since Paolo Maldini last did so for AC Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final against Liverpool.
Just when it seemed the game was heading for extra-time, Englishman Jarrod Bowen raced clear to poke home on the stroke of 90th minute to win it for the Hammers and give David Moyes his first major piece of silverware.
West Ham United will be in next season’s UEFA Europa League, following their victory in the Conference League Final.
🔴 Live Blog:
FULL-TIME AT EDEN ARENA: ACF Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham United
GOOOAAALLL!!! ACF Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham United (J. Bowen)
90′ MIN: Jarrod Bowen strikes home to hand the initiative back to the Hammers.
GOOOAAALLL!!! ACF Fiorentina 1-1 West Ham United (G. Bonaventura)
67′ MIN: Giacomo Bonaventura levels for the Viola, following a smart touch and finish.
GOOOAAALLL!!! ACF Fiorentina 0-1 West Ham United (S. Benrahma)
62′ MIN: Said Benrahma converts from twelve yards to put the Premier League side in front.
PENALTY!!! To West Ham United
After consulting with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the center referee awards a penalty to the Hammers following a handball by Ranieri in the box.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY AT EDEN ARENA: ACF Fiorentina 0-0 West Ham United
HALF-TIME AT EDEN ARENA: ACF Fiorentina 0-0 West Ham United
KICK-OFF AT EDEN ARENA: ACF Fiorentina 0-0 West Ham United
Both sides last won a major UEFA competition in the 1960s (Cup Winners Cup), and only one of them will end their long wait for a European title when they meet in the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) final in Prague.
Also, both sides finished outside of the European qualification positions in their domestic leagues, so winning here is their only chance of getting back into Europe next season.
The Italian side have already made history by becoming the first team to reach the Final of all four major UEFA competitions and they will now attempt to improve their strike rate in UEFA Finals after lifting a European trophy just once in four prior attempts (W1, L3), an emphatic victory over Rangers in 1961.
The Violets have put their Coppa Italia disappointment against Inter Milan last month behind them, as they come into this showpiece event on the back of two successive Serie A wins to wrap up their domestic season.
They had to battle past Basel to get this far, winning their semi-final courtesy of a late extra-time winner after losing the first leg at home.
As for West Ham United, the European stage has been the clear highlight of their season, after ending the 2022/2023 PL campaign in 14th position, winning just two of their final seven league fixtures (L5). They’ve made easier work of their progress to the final than their opponents (W13, D1) but have historically struggled against Italian opponents, so they will have to break new ground to lift a second-ever European title.
Older Hammers fans will remember a brace of 1-0 H2H defeats in the 1975 Anglo-Italian Cup, the only occasions these two sides have ever met and it has been a similar story since as they lost twice to Palermo in the 2006/2007 UEFA Cup, their only other experience against an Italian outfit.