West Ham United will face Eintracht Frankfurt for a place in the Europa League final after the Hammers secured their first European semi-final in 46 years with a stunning second-leg victory in Lyon.
Having held on for a 1-1 first-leg draw in London after playing the entire second half with 10 men, David Moyes’ players withstood periods of intense early pressure before sweeping their Ligue 1 opposition aside.
The visitors struck twice in seven minutes at the end of the first half, as Craig Dawson met Pablo Fornals’ corner with a superb near-post header before a deflected Declan Rice strike put the Premier League club in total charge.
Jarrod Bowen extended the advantage within three minutes of the restart, slotting in at the end of a sweeping counter-attack, and a deflated Lyon could offer no response as West Ham comfortably saw out a memorable win.
The statement victory set up the biggest match in the club’s recent history, against Bundesliga side Frankfurt, who upset Spanish giants Barcelona 3-2 at the Nou Camp to win 4-3 on aggregate.
Frankfurt were also the opposition in the last four of the 1976 European Cup Winners’ Cup, in West Ham’s last major European semi-final.
The Hammers prevailed 4-3 on aggregate on that occasion and it is the German side they must once again overcome if they are to reach the final in Seville next month, as their hugely impressive Europa League journey continues.
Moyes and his players could already be immensely proud of their European run this season, having topped their group before eliminating Sevilla – among the favourites for the competition – on a memorable night at London Stadium in the last 16.
But the manner of this latest victory, against a club who were Champions League semi-finalists two years ago, means they will rightly believe they can go even further.
Karl Toko Ekambi had struck the post inside the opening five minutes and it required last-ditch defending to deny Houssem Aouar, but West Ham successfully weathered the hosts’ dominant start.
That was despite missing left-back Aaron Cresswell, after his first-leg red card, and injured centre-back Kurt Zouma, as the visitors fielded what Moyes described before kick-off as a “patched up” defence.
Bowen volleyed wide on the stretch from Michail Antonio’s cross as West Ham began to assert themselves, though, and Lyon were simply left shell-shocked by sucker punches from Dawson and Rice.
A brilliant pass from Fornals picked out Bowen for his 15th goal of the season to move the away side within reach of the semi-finals, but there was still work to be done as Lyon racked up the attempts, to no avail, in the closing stages.
Lyon, 10th in Ligue 1, had not lost in nine Europa League games this term despite their domestic struggles – but their defeat was greeted by unsavoury scenes at full-time as supporters attempted to get onto the pitch, while violence was reported among the home fans in the stands.