West Ham thrash Gent to reach semi-finals

 

Michail Antonio of West Ham United celebrates with Lucas Paqueta after scoring goal during the UEFA Europa Conference League quarterfinal second leg match between West Ham United and KAA Gent at London Stadium on April 20, 2023 in London, United Kingdom.

West Ham booked a Europa Conference League semi-final meeting with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar after a rousing comeback against Gent at London Stadium.

Michail Antonio scored twice, with Lucas Paqueta converting a penalty to make amends for his part in the visitors’ 26th-minute opener.

Skipper Declan Rice added a brilliant third, finding the net with a low shot at the end of a surging run that started in his own half.

It was too much in the end for Gent, who were outclassed after taking the lead on aggregate through Hugo Cuypers’ first-half strike.

Jarrod Bowen had a goal disallowed for handball, denying West Ham a fifth for only the second time in their European history.

As it is, they have a fifth semi-final to look forward to and retain the chance to emulate the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning side, and also to end a major trophy drought stretching back to 1980 and the FA Cup triumph against Arsenal.

For manager David Moyes, it also means what has at times been a torturous season could end in glory, although the Scot will be acutely aware European success would have to be accompanied by Premier League survival.

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