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  • By Yann Tear at London Stadium

London Stadium captures mood of a nation with quiet reflection at Queen's passing

It all felt so surreal. How could it be anything but?

Pre-match scans of the crowd revealed mostly sombre faces and an air of quiet contemplation.

Bucharest fans were at the London Stadium in big numbers and they made far more noise than the hosts. They were largely untouched by the seismic event of the day, of course, and in full voice during the build-up to kick-off.

West Ham supporters, normally so vociferous, were muted and restrained as they filed in and the PA, normally responsible for a riot of thumping mood-setting tunes was downbeat.

It was like those old days when TV stations used to announce the deaths of a monarch or a president (in the old Soviet Union, for instance) with classical music on loop.

It should have been an uncomplicated night of passion for Hammers fans - the return of European football, which served them so well last season when they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they seemed to be aware that they were playing under a huge cloud - real and metaphorical, since the game was punctuated by downpours.

Confirmation of the Queen's passing came at around the time the gates were opened at around 6.30pm. Those who were there will always remember where they were when they heard the news. It wasn't quite like the news of the Kennedy assassination because this was bad news that had been in the pipeline. But it still carried quite a clout.

There was initially some uncertainty about whether the fixture would go ahead but clearly it would have been problematic to call off the game at such a late stage - especially as it affected so many foreign visitors. Besides, don't people like to gather together in moments of sadness and collective emotion?

Weekend games may well be called off, but that is a different matter. Here we played after a minute's silence - which turned out to be a minute's applause and a hearty rendition of God Save the Queen from home fans.

Hammers fans will perhaps always have an extra reason to think fondly of Queen Elizabeth. She was the one who presented their hero, Bobby Moore, with the World Cup in 1966. West Ham and Liz won it together.

It is something of a minor miracle that a decent game broke out, with home stands finally finding their voice as the Irons roused themselves after trailing at the interval to win 3-1 against FCSB - the club formerly known as Steaua Bucharest.

The visitors took a 34th minute lead through Andrei Cordea but David Moyes rang the changes after the break, bringing on big guns Lucas Paqueta, Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen. It paid instant dividends.

Bowen levelled from the spot after 65 minutes - somewhat fortunately gained after what looked like a 50-50 challenge between keeper Stefan Tarnovanu and Max Cornet, rising both to a high ball.

It turned the tide and on 74 minutes, Emerson drilled in from inside the box, before Antonio lashed in the third in the 90th.

It was a very decent second half from the Hammers, who finally found some gears after a first half which seemed to reflect the listless sadness which is probably being felt by many throughout the nation. They showed that life always goes on.


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