Goals from Michail Antonio and Andriy Yarmolenko fired the Hammers into the Europa League quarterfinals!
West Ham’s biggest night since moving to the London Stadium? Certainly. The most effective? Undoubtedly. So far, so good.
Tomas Soucek and, for the second time in a few days, Andriy Yarmolenko scored in the Hammers’ 2-0 extra-time win over Sevilla on Thursday, advancing them to the Europa League quarterfinals, but it was a collective effort on and off the field.
After trailing 1-0 in the first leg, Tomas Soucek’s first-half goal levelled the aggregate score, before Ukraine international Yarmolenko came off the bench to score a historic goal on West Ham’s biggest night since moving to the London Stadium, and their most high-profile fixture on the European stage in over 40 years.
Manager David Moyes had challenged West Ham fans seven days previously to match the atmosphere at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, and they did not disappoint.
Indeed, the roar in the former Olympic Stadium when Yarmolenko scored was likely the loudest since Sir Mo Farah rounded the final corner on Super Saturday a decade ago.
Sevilla, a perennial winner of Europe’s second-tier league, has also been the scourge of English clubs, going unbeaten in their previous nine meetings, including a final victory over Middlesbrough in 2006 and Liverpool six years ago. They also eliminated Manchester United in the 2020 semi-finals.
West Ham has looked more than comfortable at this level after racing through the group stage to reach the last 16 for the first time, and they had an early chance when Manuel Lanzini lifted the ball into the area for Pablo Fornals, whose shot was blocked.
Story of the match
Sevilla should have taken the lead in the 26th minute, but Youssef En-Nesyri was stopped from 10 yards out by a great reaction save by Hammers goalkeeper David Ospina.
Moments later, West Ham came agonizingly near when Said Benrahma slid the ball through to Michail Antonio.
The attacker, who passed a late fitness test to participate, saw his shot deflected by Jules Kounde and saved partially by Yassine Bounou. Soucek slid in for the rebound, but Serbian defender Nemanja Gudelj beat him to it.
But it was Soucek, six minutes before halftime, who levelled the score when he got his bandaged forehead to Antonio’s cross at the far post.
Following a mazy run by Declan Rice, Soucek nearly extended the lead on the night, but Bounou parried his shot and Rice put the rebound wide.
The hosts were increasing the pressure and the volume of the crowd, but they were given a warning when Sevilla responded and Tecatito Corona shot over.
Bounou saved a late curler from Benrahma, and neither team was able to win the tie in regulation time.
When Soucek met Craig Dawson’s knockdown from a corner, he was inches away again, but he couldn’t guide it in at the far post.
But, for the second time in a week, Yarmolenko came off the bench to score, this time with a far-post tap-in, sparking wild celebrations on the field and in the fans!