Yarmolenko goal sends Hammers through to first European quarter final since 1981
Firstly, on a personal note we have finally moved into a longer term temporary flat, very close to where we lived before so near the boys school, and close to the London Stadium. It has been a very traumatic journey for us as a family and we may not be able to get over what has happened to us for some time. It’s hard to imagine that a landlord, which is also a charity, can continue to treat families and ordinary people, many of us vulnerable and anxious about our futures, with little or no compassion and turn our worlds upside in the way they have. But we count our blessings and the flat we have is spacious in a nice location and the neighbours all seem very friendly. Our mental and physical health has improved significantly and I thank everyone here who has sent such wonderful message of support. It has taken a while to get settled in the new place so my photo diary is quite late, but will hopefully wet our appetites for the Europa League quarter final on Thursday.
But, to the match on a night that was filled with atmosphere and expectation, an emotional Andriy Yarmolenko came on as a late substitute to secure an historic win for the Hammers at the hands of Sevilla, 4 times previous winners of the completion.
Yarmolenko, returning from compassionate leave to deal with the trauma of family and friends back home in war torn Ukraine, again provided the winner after scoring a few days previously against Aston Villa in the Premier League.
It was a perfect end to an incredible night where fans sang their hearts out throughout the match, standing room only reminiscent of cup nights under the lights at Upton Park as they played the role of 12th player with passion urging the team to victory. In fact, such was the passion and desire to witness an historical night, the stadium remained packed until the final whistle of extra time.
From the fireworks and light show that have been a feature of the Europa League prematch build up to the excellent atmosphere created by the fans, there was only going to be one outcome and the Hammers did it with a performance to match the very best seen at London Stadium in recent times. It put to rest the notion that there is no atmosphere at the London Stadium.
The Hammers came into the match trailing 0-1 from the first leg away in Spain, but were not daunted by the task ahead. As disappointing Sevilla were, the Hammers excelled across the park, controlling the tempo of the game although Sevilla had wrestled the majority of possession without offering much in terms of attacking intent. Their best chance falling to Yousef En-Nesyri who had an early effort saved by Alphonse Areola.
The Hammers had control of the midfield through the excellent performances of Declan Rice and Fornals, supported by the determined Johnson and Antonio who hassled the Sevilla defence with his endless running and attacking play. The stadium erupted when Tomas Soucek rose to head home Antonio’s cross into the far corner that levelled the tie 1-1.
Sevilla have never lost a European tie after taking a lead from the first leg, and as the game wore on it seemed destined to head for penalties as the visitors played for time and seemed to have run out of ideas on how to find that crucial goal. Yarmolenko replaced Benrahma on 87th minute and you could sense something special was going to change the game. But it wasn’t until 112th minute that the stadium burst the volume dials as Pablo Fornals’ low cross found its way to Yarmolenko after Sevilla keeper Bono had parried it into his path.
Clearly emotional and reflecting the reaction of the packed stadium, Yarmolenko simply looked to the skies surrounded by jubilant team mates watched by the highest number of West Ham fans ever seen at the London Stadium. The Hammers reward is now a quarter final against Lyon which may lead to a semi final against Barcelona. But on the evidence of this performance, surely the Hammers will feel they can go all the way.
Now that would be something special.
I hope you enjoy my photos from the match.
Take care and be safe