With the score at 10-9 to Blackburn up steps Ogbonna with only the goalkeepers left to have a go and as soon as the ball left his foot hearts just stopped. Then, as if time had slowed and sped right up again, the ball strikes the bar goes up in the air and the Blackburn players and staff sprint onto the pitch in celebration.
Time had run out on the team and the week ahead seemed to be affected by this poor result. When Morley said he fancied a 3-0 win for the Hammers in his pre match interview, some of us fans said we would be lucky to get a draw. Palace are playing some tidy attacking football and we are looking soft at the back on the counter.
To the match and Bournemouth did not really provide a real test for the team. The worry though is the lack of goals from open play and it was Benni who bagged another goal through a penalty shout after a VAR review of a potential hand ball. Decisions, it seems, are going our way and provide evidence that overall across the season we get an even shout of calls for and against us. Someone must have the stats on that.
I felt we should have had this match comfortably under our belt by half time allowing for some careful substitutions as we closed the game out but that’s not the West Ham way and our injury concerns continue in defence with the loss of Angelo Ogbonna after only 22minutes and then his replacement Craig Dawson being substituted 15mins from the end of the match. With Nayef Aguerd still a little way off returning to the first team squad, our defensive woes continue.
The introduction of Antonio, replacing the inspirational Scamacca on 66mins, provided more pressure on the Wolves defence in the closing stages to see out a deserved home win that hopefully sets us up for Thursdays match against Anderlecht in the Europa Conference League. Can we keep up our good form in the competition as well as manage to negotiate a kick start to our premier League Campaign? This is where Moyes will earn his pay and justify money spent in the summer to give us greater depth, especially when everyone is fit.
An excellent Bowen penalty after Cornet was fouled, no VAR to chalk that one off, and a wonderful goal from Emerson to put us in control. The crowd sensed there were more goals in this game and it came from the excellent Antonio on 90th minute to send the crowd roaring and singing. Antonio entertains as much as he frustrates but his impact along with Bowen and later Parqueta was the difference.
The mould was broken after they made Noble as you will not get a player who will be as dedicated to a team as Mark has been to West Ham, a boyhood fan who grew up in Canning Town supporting the Hammers and living many youngster’s dream of playing for the club you watched as a child from the stands. It has been wonderful seeing so many young fans as well at the stadium and who knows which one those may grow up to play for the club and who have had Noble as their inspiration.
The pre-match rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ and noise from the crowd could not lift the home side despite the fans continuing to sing their support throughout the match. The London Stadium has found its voice in this competition and it sends the hairs on the back of your neck tingling as the crowd stood throughout the match to cheer, chant and sing West Ham on, urging the team to find a goal.
It was a battling, although not the best, performance that keeps West Ham in with a chance after Cresswell was controversially sent off at the end of a first half that saw the Hammers gradually taking control against a rather niggly Lyon side happy to play for every foul and tactic to disrupt the flow of the game.
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.