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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Groupama Stadium, Lyon

West Ham reach first Euro semi-final in 46 years with sumptuous 3-0 demolition of Olympique Lyon



West Ham sensationally reached the semi-final of a European competition for the first time in 46 years after cantering to a stunning 3-0 victory in Lyon.


The Hammers, who are undoubtedly the Premier League’s revelation this season, will now meet Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt for a place in Seville’s final on May 18.


As fate has had it the Germans were the obstacle on West Ham’s way to the Brussels Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1976.


If manager John Lyall’s men failed to lift the trophy that year, slipping to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Anderlecht, there’s no doubt that this West Ham side has what it takes to go the distance and lift the biggest trophy in their 126-year-long history this time should they see off Frankfurt.


Craig Dawson’s towering near-post header set West Ham on their way to a historic victory in the French club’s 400th European game.


Declan Rice then exploited the space afforded between the lines to drive forward and smash a low right-footer beyond Julian Pollersbeck.


The two goals proved to be a shock to the Ligue 1 outfit’s system and Jarrod Bowen dispatched Pablo Fornals’ wonderfully-weighted through ball to put the game and qualification to the Europa League semis beyond doubt three minutes after the restart.


But it wasn’t plain sailing for the visitors as Lyon missed a string of glaring opportunities after kick-off before they were made to pay for their wastefulness and defensive horror show by the no-nonsense Hammers.


Unable to give their struggling side a lift, the mood in the electric Groupama Stadium was suddenly lower than a snake’s belly after conceding three times in the space of 10 minutes.


The first half was a tale of two halves.


Siege was laid to Alphonse Areola’s goal by Olympique Lyon yet the Hammers stood firm and survived a flurry of chances.


West Ham’s defence was down to the bare bones after Aaron Cresswell’s suspension and Kurt Zouma’s potentially season-ending injury due to an ankle injury which left David Moyes with a defence that virtually picked itself.


In came Issa Diop for the ex-Chelsea centre-back while Ben Johnson filled the void left behind by Cresswell.


West Ham’s bungling defence was almost exposed by Karl Toko Ekambi, the competition’s joint-top scorer, but the Cameroon international struck the inside of the near post after only five minutes.


And minutes later nobody was there to apply the finishing touch in the crowded box after a good ball in from the right as the Lyon strikers couldn’t sort out their feet and convert the loose ball.


Lyon were the stronger side in the opening half-hour. Dutchman Peter Bosz’s players were going from strength to strength but without breaking West Ham's steely resistance, a deficit which came back to haunt them.


The insuperable Dawson then blocked Moussa Dembele’s venomous shot on 21 minutes before West Ham scuffed his shot after being brilliantly located by Michail Antonio at the far post.


Lyon had their chances but didn’t take them and it was now West Ham’s turn to take the game to them.


Belgium international Jason Denayer deflected Bowen’s shot from outside the box behind for a corner.


And from the resulting corner on 38 minutes, Craig Dawson headed the Londoners in front with a well-taken header.


The ex-Watford centre-back timed his jump to perfection to stun the Groupama Arena and send the numerous Hammers supporters into raptures.


And rather than dropping deep, they kept going with Rice delivering the sucker punch in the last minute of the first period.


The 23-year-old ‘one-of-their-own’ showed what he was made of when, allowed time and space, fired an unstoppable right-footer into the bottom corner to double West Ham’s lead.


The wheels were now clearly coming off for the shocked Lyonnais and three minutes into the second-half Bowen stabbed an angled effort home after latching onto Spaniard Fornals' through ball.


Lyon had two chances to reduce the arrears on 64 and 69 minutes respectively but neither Dembele nor Malo Gusto had their shooting boots on.


After going through a difficult period following their painful departure from Upton Park in May 2016 the Hammers faithful are dreaming with their eyes open.


Who would have predicted this tight-knit group’s fairytale during the rotten Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore and Sebastien Feghouli days?


Olympique Lyonnais


30 Julian Pollersbeck- 3 Emerson- 4 Castello Lukeba- 5 Jason Denayer- 7 Karl Toko Ekambi- 8 Houssam Aouar- 9 Moussa Dembele- 15 Romain Faivre- 17 Malo Gusto- 23 Thiago Mendes- 28 Tanguy Ndombele


West Ham United


13 Alphonse Areola- 5 Vladimir Coufal- 8 Pablo Fornals- 9 Michail Antonio- 15 Craig Dawson- 20 Jarrod Bowen- 15 Issa Diop- 28 Tomas Soucek- 31 Ben Johnson- 41 Declan Rice

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