AEK Larnaca 0 – 2 West Ham

Michael Antonio’s stunning first-half double earned West Ham a 2-0 win at AEK Larnaca in the first leg of the Europa Conference League last-16.

The forward was straight back into the side after a hamstring injury, however he left after straining his calf on the hour.

However, talking about another mantra, Antonio pointed out bt sport After the game: “Hamstrings are good, my shin is good. I got some kicks in today and I think it just tightened up. I think I’ll be fine.”

The forward certainly made his mark, nodding brilliantly before a stunning, curling effort (45+1) in the 36th minute to double the Hammers’ lead – his first brace in 19 months. He could have made it a hat-trick right after the break too, but saw his left-footed shot hit the post.

However, they had already seen West Ham in a commanding position ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at the London Stadium.

Larnaca, who have never reached the last 16 of any European competition, certainly tested West Ham at the start and end of the game. They scored 14 corners – West Ham had zero – but the Hammers’ quality shone through at both ends of the pitch.

West Ham boss David Moyes said, “Tonight I knew it was going to be difficult.” “I didn’t think it would be a walkover and they made it tough and we stayed out and got a clean sheet.

“So far this season we have won nine games in Europe and something needs to be done about it.

“Not many managers and players make it to the European quarter-finals back-to-back. We still have work to do to get there, but it’s not a bad achievement.

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“Then the next part is getting to the semi-finals. We need to embrace it, enjoy it. There’s something different about Europe, to be involved at this stage, even in a smaller stadium like tonight, is a big thrill.”

How West Ham beat Larnaca in the first leg

West Ham players celebrate their team’s second goal during the Europa Conference League round of 16 first leg

It took a while for West Ham to get going as Larnaca started well. In the 18th minute, Marin Zakoulis was fouled down the left wing, hauling down Thilo Kehrer and Nayef Aguirre, but his cross was headed back by Declan Rice. From the third consecutive corner of that spell, Nikos Engelzou headed straight over.

But once West Ham discovered his quality, it was only a matter of time before the goals came. In the 31st minute, Manuel Lanzini sent his shot wide after some good work from Antonio and Pablo Fornals. Seconds later, Bananarama’s shot was saved at the near post by Kenan Piric.

But it was an injury stoppage for Angelozzo just after allowing David Moyes to talk to his team – especially Antonio – and the opening goal came from the striker just four minutes later.

team news

  • David Moyes made seven changes from the weekend’s defeat at Brighton.
  • Only Alfonso Areola, Nayef Aguirde, Declan Rice and Said Bananarama retained their places, with both Michaël Antonio and Thilo Kehrer fit enough to start.
  • Angelo Ogbonna and Maxwell Cornet were both fit enough to earn places on the bench.
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Bananarama did brilliantly to leave two Larnaca defenders behind him as he dropped a shoulder, with his floating cross headed emphatically by an unmarked Antonio.

Three added in the first minute, a superb finish gave West Ham second place. Rice moved through midfield before finding Antonio, who had all the space to turn and strike, sent a curling shot around Nenad Tomovic and into the back of the net.

Antonio could have completed the perfect hat-trick three minutes after the break. Lanzini and Bananarama linked up well down the left, the latter feeding a lovely curling pass to his teammate, but Antonio sent his left-footed shot over the far post.

AEK Larnaca's Nikos Engelzou closes in on his team that tested West Ham
AEK Larnaca’s Nikos Engelzou close to his team who tested West Ham

Larnaca finished the game the same way they started – lots of set-play and testing of the West Ham defence. Substitutes Ivan Trikovski and Imad Faraj both found defenses from Alfonso Areola but were unable to put past the goalkeeper.

But eventually, the Hammers saw off a comfortable first leg victory, taking a commanding position at the London Stadium the following Thursday.

Moyes: Thrilled with the result – but we didn’t play well

West Ham coach David Moyes looks on to his players during the Europa Conference League first leg first leg football match between AEK Larnaca FC and West Ham United FC at AEK Arena Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus, Thursday, March 9.  2023. (AP Photo/Petros Karadzias)
David Moyes was pleased with West Ham’s win in Larnaca but not impressed with the overall performance

West Ham manager David Moyes to BT Sport:

“We didn’t play particularly well, but that’s a good thing to do when you’re disappointed with your performance. But thrilled with the result, a 2-0 win away from home.

“I was disappointed with our overall game. I don’t think we played particularly well tonight. But getting the two goals was really important for us, we’re not doing that regularly, but we want to do something else.” It was another part of the disappointment, but overall, really glad we got the result.

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“If we can get to the quarter-finals of a European competition two years in a row, that would be great. I hope we’re talking about semi-finals and finals this year, but first we’ve got to try and get to the quarters.” Make finals.”

Asked if the three changes in the 60th minute were made with Aston Villa in mind for the weekend’s play in mind: “Of course it was, but at the same time, if not I think we were relatively comfortable in the contest , then I would not have made the changes.” Play. We found ourselves in a really good position.

Antonio: I was so close to the perfect hat-trick!

West Ham goalkeeper Michael Antonio for BT Sport:

“We’re ready to get the win, get a good gap between us so that when we go home next week, it’s not going to be easy, but at least we’re ahead.

“I was so close to the perfect hat-trick! When it hit the post, I was devastated. But after getting two goals, I’m buzzing. Hopefully next week, I can get some more.

“One thing in football is there is always competition, someone tries to take your shirt. Today, I managed to come out and score a few goals. It’s whether I get a chance at the weekend.

“We are more comfortable, but in football, anything can happen. We are at home with our fans, I think it can be easier and hopefully another win.”

What will happen next?

West Ham hosts Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday; Kick-off at 2 p.m. The return leg against AEK Larnaca is next Thursday at the London Stadium; Kick-off 8pm.

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