The party atmosphere continued from Thursdays incredible away win at Lyon to secure a historic Europa League semi final with Frankfurt and with the summer sun beating down on the London Stadium fans were hoping for more of the same against managerless Burnley, who are struggling for Premier League survival.
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.
The party atmosphere was in full swing before the game, despite some fans struggling to get to the match during the Boxing Day with the impact of COVID and travel chaos that left some stranded and missing a game filled with the range of emotions you would find in a Christmas holiday movie – although the ending was not filled with the usual Hollywood feeling good theme of joy to all and the spirit of giving was definitely absent in the result.
Wins don’t come better that this and the end of match celebrations reverberated in and around Westfield until the small hours with fans singing ‘West Ham are massive wherever we go’ punctuated with cries of ‘Irons!’ ‘Irons’ and ‘Stick your blue flag …..’ Well, you know how that one goes eh?
On a night we needed a win, VAR denied us a second goal as the ball rolled over the line off Shane Duffy. Celebrations echoed around the ground only for the decision to go against us as Antonio was judged to have been offside before the ball had hit the defender on its way towards goal.
With chants of David Moyes Claret and Blue Army and West Ham Are Massive, Wherever We Go heard long after the match had ended and echoing around Westfield, we can finally put to bed the idea that we cannot compete with the top teams.
A game of drama and real frustration for us as I feel we deserved at least a point, even after the rush of blood to the head decision by Moyes to throw Noble on to take a last gasp penalty to salvage the game. It would have been so different if Noble had scored – imagine the headlines – but it was not to be.
It was an emotional return to the London Stadium as I have not seen my brother for quite some time and it was wonderful to see him. It was also great to see so many familiar faces – few faces I did not recognise from the final game before the lockdown last year. The hairs on the back of my neck raised as we heard the crowd singing and immersed ourselves in the bustle before the game. So glad to be back.
With the backdrop of one of the largest fan protests against owners Gold, Sullivan and Brady before the match, a superb performance on the pitch and a first goal for new recruit Jarrod Bowen secured a well deserved win to lift the Hammers out of the drop zone into 16th spot, albeit on goal difference.
This was the last game of the season that saw the Hammers move up to finish 13th in the Premier League and saw David Moyes bring the team out of the relegation zone to finish 9 points above relegated Swansea in 18th.