Declan Rice stunner leads West Ham into Europa Conference League semi-finals

Michail Antonio scored twice and Declan Rice scored a superb solo goal as West Ham progressed to the Europa Conference League semi-finals.

The Hammers fell back by a goal against Belgian club Gent but hit back with an impressive 4-1 win that night and a 5-2 aggregate win.

It means a continental semi-final for the second straight season for David Moyes’ side after reaching the same stage of the Europa League last season.

Moyes arguably chose his strongest side available after managing to carve a small respite between himself and the Premier League’s bottom three.

But Gent should have scored with their first attack – Sven Kuma played a dangerous cross that Gift Orban and Hugo Cuypers both missed from before goal.

West Ham came close when Kurt Zouma headed over from a Vladimir Coufal free-kick before long delays ensued as Coufal and Nayef Aguerd required treatment for head injuries.

But it was Lucas Paqueta who looked like he’d taken a hit on the head as his lazy pass down the middle was easily intercepted.

Orban was able to charge forward and straight to Matisse Samoise, who was unmarked on the right. His first shot hit the ground and, despite Aguerd’s best efforts, landed on the goal line, allowing Cuypers to bundle home.

But West Ham equalized before half-time when Antonio Jarrod hit Bowen’s free-kick powerfully at the near post.

Moyes was adamant West Ham should have been awarded a penalty when Said Benrahma’s header caught Samoise’s arm but referee Orel Grinfeeld gave nothing.

The hosts should have taken the lead four minutes into the second half when Bowen rolled the ball over for the oncoming Tomas Soucek, who parried his shot well but slammed it against the bar.

A truly chaotic period of play then ensued amid a handball claim that saw Bowen’s shot saved by Davy Roef before Antonio hit the foot of the far post.

When play finally stopped, Grinfeeld was called to the pitchside monitor and correctly decided that Joseph had treated Okumu when he stumbled in the area.

Paqueta, anxious to make up for his mistake, took the ball from Benrahma and scored the penalty effortlessly.

Rice capped off a great performance with a memorable goal after winning the ball in his own half. The England midfielder ran half the length of the field, dodging two tackles before slipping the ball past Roef.

Antonio completed the goal with another spectacular strike after being sent off by Paqueta to book a semi-final against Dutch club AZ Alkmaar next month.

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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