June 14, 2024

How West Ham United’s players rated at the Fortuna Arena where David Moyes side looked to beat Fiorentina in the final of the Europa Conference League and win their first major honour in 43 years

West Ham United have won their first major European honour since 1965 after a dramatic 2-1 win over Italian side Fiorentina in the final of the Europa Conference League in Prague.

Said Benrahma’s penalty shortly after the hour mark sealed victory put the Hammers ahead, only for Giacomo Bonaventura to cancel that effort out minutes later. Jarrod Bowen’s goal in the 90th minute however sealed the win, a first major honour for 43 years and a place in next season’s Europa League.

Here is how football.london’s West Ham United writer Jonty Colman rated the Hammers’ players against the Viola.

Alphonse Areola

French goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has been the goalkeeper in cup competitions this season and kept his place over Lukasz Fabianski in between the sticks, being the only West Ham player to start all 15 Europa Conference League matches for the Hammers this term. Areola had little to do in the first half and met largely what he had to with some comfort. Did get a fortunate reprieve when Luka Jovic’s first half goal was ruled out for a narrow offside, although there was little he could do about it, having just saved Christian Kouame’s attempt seconds earlier. Would have been disappointed to have seen Bonaventura’s leveller go past him, but on the stretch, Areola could still not get there. 6

Vladimir Coufal

One of West Ham’s two former Slavia Prague players, Vladimir Coufal, started at right-back, getting picked ahead of German Thilo Kehrer, who has ended the season in improved form. Did well to shackle Christian Koaume for most of the winger’s outing down that side against him. Forced into a crucial headed clearance in the penalty area in the first half as Fiorentina threatened an opener. Perhaps lucky that Jovic’s goal was ruled out, with Kouame’s initial header leading to the goal. His long throws caused problems, first seeing Declan Rice fire wide in the first half, before the quick thinking of himself and Bowen won West Ham a penalty out of nothing. 6

Kurt Zouma

Not all that often this season have West Ham been able to field Frenchman Kurt Zouma in a centre-back pair with Moroccan Nayef Aguerd, but against AZ Alkmaar in the semi-final second leg, they showed exactly why West Ham invested heavily in both of them. French centre-back Zouma was really solid at the back and hardly put a foot wrong throughout the first half. Struggled early in the second half after suffering an injury which forced him shortly before Benrahma opened the scoring, but did well while he was on. 6

Nayef Aguerd

Having missed virtually the entire season before the World Cup, the Europa Conference League has proved to be a good platform for Nayef Aguerd to get up to speed, with West Ham likely to see a much more polished talent when next season starts. Was exceptional at the back and arguably West Ham’s best player for the whole of the 90 minutes. Gave everything, threw himself at everything and showed his leadership and quality throughout. Looked more comfortable with Zouma next to him but hardly dropped off after he came off either. 8

Emerson

The major surprise in the West Ham line-up saw Emerson get the nod over vice-captain Aaron Cresswell at left-back, a move likely to down Emerson’s knowhow of Italian football, as well as his pace. Moyes gambled by dropping Cresswell for Emerson, but it was a decision that he got absolutely spot on. The Italian was great going forward, and while he would have been frustrated to see Nicolas Gonzalez down his side able to tee up Bonaventura for the equalising goal. Was excellent in possession and added dynamism and quality. A big gamble, but one Moyes got spot on. 7

Tomas Soucek

Tomas Soucek first joined Slavia Prague as a ten-year-old and the Fortuna Arena means so much to him, with the 28-year-old even being awarded his old seat back in the dressing room, adding to his home comforts. Back in his old stomping ground, Soucek may have not done too much on the ball but needed his physical prowess and his threat from headers at times was vital, coming close to creating a Bowen chance in the first half and forcing a save out of Pietro Terracciano in the second half from the edge of the penalty box. 7

Declan Rice

Given the transfer links with the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal, plus his comments at the World Cup about wanting to play Champions League football, this game was always looking set to be Rice’s 245th and final one in claret and blue. Despite putting in a couple of early tackles, it certainly was not Rice’s best game, but he would not have minded one bit, the fact that he got to lift the Europa Conference League trophy at the end of it. His captaincy may only last a season, but it is a season that he and West Ham’s fans will cherish for the rest of their lives. 6

Lucas Paqueta

Brazilian Lucas Paqueta has really ended the season as a true fans’ favourite and should Rice depart as expected, it feels almost obvious as to who Rice’s likely successor will be. In the 90th minute, as West Ham fans love to sing, there really was no one better than Lucas Paqueta when he slipped through a slick pass that would have warranted every piece of his potential club record-breaking transfer fee. He oozed in class, fight, and skill in a team display that certainly was not West Ham’s best, but Paqueta was sensational when he had to be and while Bowen will get the credit, Paqueta made it all happen. 8

Jarrod Bowen (Star man)

Jarrod Bowen entered the game with five of his goals for the season coming in Europe, second only to Michail Antonio in Europe this season. Bowen was not having his best of first halves, positionally, he found himself in not quite the right spot, but the anticipation was certainly there. Changed the game and bought it to life when latching onto a Coufal throw-in to win a penalty, the sixth he has won all season, which was slotted cooly by Benrahma. Then had the magic in the 90th minute that ensured that Prague was taken over by West Ham and deservedly so. He has been such a great player already for West Ham, but that goal now immortalises him. 8

Michail Antonio

Jamaican international Antonio has been the club’s top scorer in all competitions this term, with seven of his 14 for the season ahead of the game coming in Europe. Antonio found himself not getting the rub of the green from referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande in the first half, and his physicality was getting punished much more than it was rewarded. He fed off scraps, battled and carried his players up the pitch at times. Despite little service, he did his job well. 7

Said Benrahma

Despite Pablo Fornals’ heroics in the second leg in Alkmaar, Algerian Said Benrahma was preferred to him to anchor the attack, with Benrahma one of only three players this season alongside Bowen and Antonio on double figures for goals. The Algerian was not having an amazing first half at all and not helped by West Ham’s lack of endeavour going forward, his only notable action was a dive when trying to win a foul. He was rightly booked and the attempt was one professional athletes would have been proud of. Stepped up when it mattered most from 12 yards to score his 12th goal of the season, half of which have come from the penalty spot. After kicking the ball away, while already on a yellow card, Moyes had very little option but to take him off with 15 minutes to go, but his penalty certainly gave West Ham a needed lift when his side were struggling. 7

Substitutes

Thilo Kehrer

Shortly before Benrahma opened the scoring from 12 yards, German defender Thilo Kehrer replaced Zouma at centre-back after being forced off injured. Perhaps fortunate not to give away a penalty in between the two goals when he blocked a shot with his arm, although he did not know much about it. 5   

 

Pablo Fornals

Fornals, the hero of Alkmaar, found himself left out of the starting line-up, despite his semi-final heroics. Was introduced with just under 15 minutes left to go with Benrahma in danger of a sending off. Had a couple of chances to start counterattacks on the edge of his own box when winning possession, but his distribution was poor. 5

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