West Ham 4-1 Gent (5-2 agg): Antonio nets brace as Hammers reach another European semi-final

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West Ham vs Gent

West Ham battled back from a goal behind in the second leg against Gent to win 5-2 on aggregate to reach another semi-final in Europe.

The Hammers went a goal down to Belgian side Gent but they managed to hit back for a thumping 4-1 win on the night and 5-2 over the two legs.

It earns a continental semi-final for a second consecutive year for David Moyes’ team, having reached the same stage of the Europa League during the 2021/22 campaign.

Moyes picked arguably his strongest available side, having managed to create a little breathing space between themselves and the Premier League’s bottom three.

But Gent should have scored with their first attack – Sven Kuma produced a dangerous cross which Gift Orban and Hugo Cuypers both missed in front of goal.

West Ham went close when Kurt Zouma headed over from a Vladimir Coufal free-kick, before there were lengthy delays when Coufal and Nayef Aguerd needed treatment on head injuries.

But it was Lucas Paqueta who looked like he had taken a bang on the head when his lazy pass in the centre was easily intercepted.

Orban was able to charge forward and square to Matisse Samoise, unmarked on the right. His first-time shot bounced into the ground and looped up for Cuypers to bundle home despite the best efforts of Aguerd on the goal-line.

But West Ham equalised before half-time when Antonio powerfully met Jarrod Bowen’s free-kick at the near post.

Moyes was adamant West Ham should have had a penalty when Said Benrahma’s header struck the arm of Samoise but referee Orel Grinfeeld gave nothing.

The hosts should have gone ahead four minutes into the second half when Bowen rolled the ball across goal for the onrushing Tomas Soucek, who caught his shot well but crashed it against the crossbar.

There then came a truly chaotic spell of play amid a claim for handball, which saw Bowen’s shot saved by Davy Roef before Antonio hit the foot of the other post.

When play finally stopped Grinfeeld was called over to the pitchside monitor and decided, correctly, that Joseph Okumu had handled as he stumbled in the area.

Paqueta, eager to make amends for his error, took the ball off Benrahma and confidently fired the spot-kick home.

Rice capped a magnificent display with a memorable goal after winning the ball in his own half. The England midfielder ran half the length of the field, evading two challenges before slotting the ball past Roef.

Antonio completed the scoring with another spectacular strike after he was sent through by Paqueta to book a semi-final next month against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

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