West Ham secure Conference League glory

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PRAGUE, (Reuters) – Jarrod Bowen slid home a 90th-minute winner as West Ham United secured a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday to clinch a first major European trophy in over half a century.

The match at Prague’s Eden Arena looked like it was heading to extra time when Lucas Paqueta slipped a ball through to Bowen who outpaced the defenders on a quick counter attack and fired past Fiorentina keeper Pietro Terracciano.

The goal made Bowen the first English player to score the winner in a major European final since Arsenal’s Alan Smith in 1994 and capped a campaign in which West Ham were unbeaten in 15 UEFA Europa Conference League matches.

When the referee blew the final whistle, the West Ham players raced to the corner to celebrate in front of their fans who revelled in the team’s first win in a European final since they lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.

The supporters of both teams made their presence felt in a noisy atmosphere, though the referee was forced to stop play midway through the opening half after West Ham fans threw cups at Fiorentina’s Biraghi, hitting the defender on the head and drawing blood.

UEFA had allotted only 5,780 tickets to each club, leaving legions of supporters unable to attend the match at Slavia Prague’s stadium with a capacity set at 18,000 for the final.

Many thousands of West Ham supporters instead watched the match in bars and fan zones aground the city. Earlier in the day, Czech police said they had detained 16 Fiorentina supporters after they attacked West Ham fans in a local bar and a police officer.

Team of West Ham celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa Conference League Final soccer match between AFC Fiorentina and West Ham United, in Prague, Czech Republic, 07 June 2023. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

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