West Ham manager David Moyes is extremely proud of his side after they roared into an historic first European semi-final in 46 years.
Goals from Craig Dawson, Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen secured a memorable 3-0 away victory over Lyon and a 4-1 aggregate success, taking the Europa League debutants into the last four.
Moyes’ side were big underdogs heading to the city overlooked by the French Alps following last week’s 1-1 first-leg draw at the London Stadium.
But it was hosts Lyon who were left with a mountain to climb after two goals in seven minutes at the end of the first half from Dawson and Rice put West Ham in control.
When Bowen made it 3-0, Lyon heads dropped as the price of flights to Frankfurt rocketed – Eintracht Frankfurt having shocked Barcelona to reach the last four and book a meeting with the Hammers.
“I’m extremely proud of how they performed,” said Moyes, who had to save West Ham from relegation less than two years ago.
“It’s a great achievement for West Ham to reach a European semi-final and we are thrilled by it. It’s difficult to get the words for it.
“We don’t get the trophy tonight so we won’t be jumping around. But we have come a long way in a short period and I’m extremely proud.
“Lyon played really well for 25 minutes and delivered some great crosses which we didn’t defend well.
This aged well😂👍 https://t.co/oYNOAE4DzK
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) April 14, 2022
“But we showed resilience and stayed in the game. We are still learning how to be better with the ball, but we knew we had power up front and we could hurt them.
“We’re not favourites to win the tournament, but I want the players to think they are. Tonight was a great squad ethic and performance.”
West Ham, without half of their usual back four due to Kurt Zouma’s injury and Aaron Cresswell’s suspension, got off to a nervy start when Cameroon forward Karl Toko Ekambi smacked a shot against the foot of Alphonse Areola’s near post.
Yet they were able to gradually take Lyon’s sting out of the game, and it was centre-half Dawson, the £2million signing from Watford who has become something of a cult figure during West Ham’s European adventure, who enhanced his reputation further with a crashing near-post header in the 38th minute.
The Hammers went 2-0 ahead moments before half-time when a poor clearing header from Emerson fell to Rice 20 yards out.
The England midfielder’s shot was low and skidding, and goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck was beaten by the bounce and a slight deflection off the toe of defender Castello Lukeba.
Bowen, West Ham’s goalscorer in the first leg, fired them into dreamland three minutes into the second half with a precise finish, allowing Moyes’ side to see out the remainder of the match in an uncharacteristically calm fashion.
Lyon’s angry fans attempted to storm through anti-riot barriers at full-time while Hammers supporters, high up at the vast Groupama Stadium, celebrated deliriously.
Midfielder Pablo Fornals said: “As you can imagine, I don’t know where I am. Everyone in the dressing room is the same, the feeling is unbelievable. I’m really, really, really happy.
“It was an unbelievable moment for everyone. The dressing room was like a big party. But this is how we have been playing as a team, as a family, everyone running for each other.”
Spaniard Fornals, who misses out on a semi-final trip to Barca in his homeland, added: “Everyone in the semi-finals deserves it. I don’t really care who we are against, as long as we are all together.
“We have big chances to play against every team. Everything can happen in Europe.”