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Bowen Late Goal Sees West Ham Nail Trophy At The Expense Of Fiorentina

posted by Dawson at Wednesday, June 7, 2023 Comment | 0

West Ham United captured their first major silverware since 1980 after battling to a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in a showpiece UEFA Europa Conference League final in Prague.

In the ‘golden city’, it was golden boy Declan Rice on whom the Hammers faithful placed their hopes on once again, with the midfielder desperate to emulate legendary World Cup winner Bobby Moore by captaining the East End side to European glory. Nights of such significance represented new territory for David Moyes’ group however, and they were forced to dig their trenches against the competition’s top scorers, who started with menacing intent early on.

A defensive strategy almost brought an unlikely goal, as Rice’s snapshot had fans out of their seats, but there was no doubting the superiority of La Viola. In turn, their dominance saw them create the best first-half opportunity, when Nikola Milenković steered a golden chance over the crossbar from six yards out. Getting ever closer to a goal as the HT whistle loomed, Fiorentina appeared to have finally opened the scoring through Luka Jović, though his diving header was quickly ruled out for offside.

It looked as if Hammers boss David Moyes wouldn’t have his vengeance against the very club that knocked his Everton side out of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup on penalties, as they continued to struggle with Fiorentina’s intensity. But after bravely toiling early in the second half, West Ham were given a lifeline on the hour mark, when Cristiano Biraghi’s handball saw referee Carlos del Cerro Grande point to the spot. Despite not having so much as a sniff at goal previously, Saïd Benrahma belted his penalty into the top right-hand corner to send Hammers fans around the ground into a frenzy.

The goal did little to dampen the Italian side’s collective spirit though, and they struck back within just five minutes, when Giacomo Bonaventura’s superbly struck effort flew past Alphonse Areola and into the net. As a result of that quickfire leveller, the momentum was once again with Vincenzo Italiano’s men as the game entered its finale, and Rolando Mandragora ought to have done better when he fired wide from the edge of the box under little pressure.

But history shows that such occasions are often decided by the finest margins, and by hanging in there once more, West Ham eventually found their difference-maker in Jarrod Bowen, who wrote his name into the Hammers history books with a composed side foot finish after just about beating Fiorentina’s fatigued offside trap. After eight agonising minutes of added time to follow that winner for the ages, hordes of Claret and Blue erupted as West Ham finally broke a generation-long trophy curse, and with fortune now thrust gloriously from its hiding place, the dream – far from fading and dying – is now truly alive in East London.

NairaLux Man of the Match: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United)

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