18 mins: Johnson crosses from the left. Emerson’s clearing header is poor. The ball drops to Fornals, who shapes a shot towards the bottom right. It’s on target, but lacks power. Pollersbeck gathers.
16 mins: Aouar rolls passed down the left for Ekambi. He hits it way too hard, and it looks like flying out for a goal kick, but Ekambi turns on the jets to stop the ball on the byline, then turns Coufal inside out like a freshly laundered pair of socks, turning tail back up the pitch then immediately spinning around again. Having made space out of nothing, he whips into the middle. Diop deals with the cross. What skill from Ekambi, though.
14 mins: Ekambi curls a glorious low cross along the corridor of uncertainty from the right. West Ham are extremely fortunate that Dembele is on the back foot at the time. That ball was begging to be slammed home from close range. One hell of a cross.
12 mins: The winner of this tie will face either Barcelona or Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final. Right now, it’s the German side who are going through. They’ve taken an early lead at Camp Nou, Filip Kostic slotting a penalty after just four minutes.
10 minutes: Lyon go up the other end and nearly take the lead…again. Gusto crosses low from the right. Dembele can’t connect at the far post. Aouar has a dig, but a combination of Coufal and Dawson bundles the ball away. Lyon want a penalty for a non-existent handball. Nope!
9 mins: Bowen is brought down on the right wing. The resulting free kick finds Lanzini further down the flank. His cross isn’t all that. But West Ham come again, Coufal nearly finding Lanzini in the middle with a whipped cross from the right. Lyon clear their lines. Better from West Ham.
7 mins: Mendes drags a shot wide left of the West Ham goal from distance. That was never troubling Areola, but David Moyes is extremely unhappy with his team anyway. Stern words are issued with crisp, clear diction at volume.
5 min: Ekambi dribbles into the West Ham box from the left. He drops a shoulder and sends a fierce snapshot towards the bottom left. Areola is beaten, but the ball clacks off the base of the post and away. wow. An early escape for the Hammers.
4 mins: Lyon are hogging the ball, but going nowhere in particular. West Ham hold their shape confidently, as David Moyes teams tend to do.
2 min: Lyon calm things down with some early possession. The 50,000-odd fans inside the stadium continue to make a rare old racket.
Lyon get the ball rolling after taking of the knee. Smoke from some firecrackers drifts across the pitch. What an atmosphere! And it’s a bubble very nearly burst immediately by West Ham, as Fornals chases a long speculative ball down the middle. He reaches the edge of the box and drags a shot across the face of the Lyon goal and out for a free kick. Fourteen seconds, that took … though the flag belatedly goes up for offside. Still, what a statement of intent by the Hammers!
The teams are out! One heck of an atmosphere at the Stade des Lumières. Blue, white and red flags flutter prominently in the stands. Well, this is France. It’s fantastic! Lyon are in their first-choice white with blue and red vertical sash; West Ham sport their favorite colors too. Claret. Well, this is France. It’s fantastic! “The 2006 Cup Final was a pretty big match for West Ham as well,” writes Ian Melven. Ha. Yes, somehow I forgot about the Gerrard Final. My bad. “A fantastic match for the neutral and one that took me at least 10 years to be able to watch again.”
Lyon boss Peter Bosz also has a word with BT. “We have to win. We want to win. We are doing really well in Europe, not in our own league, so it’s important for us tonight. At this level you need your fans, and we have to earn their trust. Without them, it is not possible.”
Anyway, back to this match, and here’s what Davie Moyes has been telling BT Sport. “We’re patching together a wee bit at the back, but they’ve all played together, they’ve played in this competition, so let’s hope they can perform tonight. The quarter final of this cup? Fan-tas-tic. For us to be at this level, it can be a little bit underestimated how far we’ve come and how well we’re doing. We’re in with great luck tonight.”
There’s already been one big statement posted by a Premier League club in Europe tonight. Leicester City have come from behind at PSV Eindhoven to make it through to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League. They were trailing to Eran Zahavi’s 27th-minute goal until James Maddison slotted an Ayoze Perez pullback on 77 minutes. Then with two minutes left on the clock, Leicester flicked a switch and suddenly turned into Swansea City circa 2011. An astonishing Rodgersian pass-and-move sequence that suddenly gathered steam down the left, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall releasing Ademola Lookman with a forensic pass , Paston Daka shooting, Ricardo Pereira steaming in from the other flank to slam home the rebound. As good a team goal as you’ll see in Europe all season. They’ll play either Bodø/Glimt or Roma in the seedlings.
Issa Diop replaces the stricken Kurt Zouma at centre-half for West Ham, while Ben Johnson stands in at left-back for the suspended Aaron Cresswell. There are two other changes to the XI that started the game in London last week: Vladimír Coufal and Manuel Lanzini replace Ryan Fredericks and Said Benrahma, both of whom drop to the bench.
Brazilian Lucas Paqueta is on the Lyon bench despite Uefa earlier announcing he was out after testing positive for Covid-19. He’s one of three changes to the side sent out for the first leg. Julian Pollersbeck replaces the injured Anthony Lopes in goal. Jérôme Boateng drops to the bench along with Paqueta; Jason Denayer and Karl Toko Ekambi take their places.
Lyons: Pollersbeck, Gusto, Denayer, Lukeba, Emerson Palmieri, Faivre, Thiago Mendes, Ndombele, Toko Ekambi, Aouar, Dembele.
Subs: Bonnevie, Lucas Paqueta, Kadewere, Dubois, Keita, Tete, Damien Da Silva, Reine-Adelaide, Bradley Barcola, Boateng, Malcolm Barcola.
West Ham: Areola, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Johnson, Soucek, Rice, Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals, Antonio.
Subs: Fabianski, Yarmolenko, Vlasic, Noble, Benrahma, Fredericks, Masuaku, Kral, Randolph, Alese, Chesters, Perkins.
Referee: Sandro Scharer (Switzerland).
Those who don’t pay close attention to the history of West Ham United may be surprised to hear that the Hammers have a decent record in Europe. They were the second British club to lift the Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1965 – Moore, Hurst and Peters, all that – and reached the final again in 1976 with a side containing Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard Sr. They also won the Intertoto Cup in 1999, about which you can make your own value judgment, but it is something.
It’s all in the distant past, though, and a new generation are on a quest to make a mark of their own. David Moyes’ men have already knocked out the six-time winners Sevilla, and in the first leg of this tie against Olympique Lyonnais at the London Stadium, ground out a 1-1 draw despite playing more than half of the game with ten men, Aaron Cresswell having been sent packing just before the break. So they’ll be confident in their ability to get what they need tonight at the Stade des Lumières in Lyon.
Lyon will have high hopes themselves, having seen off Champions League rejects Porto in the last round. They’re stranded in mid-table in Ligue 1, but can boast recent European success, having reached the semi-finals of the Champions League just two seasons ago. There’s no major European trophy on their roll of honour, but they did win the 1997 Intertoto Cup, about which you can make your own value judgment, but it is something.
The winners of this tie will play Eintracht Frankfurt or Barcelona in the semi-final. That tie is also delicately poised at 1-1 and will be decided tonight at Camp Nou. Can the Hammers get a result in France and set up what would arguably be their biggest game since the 1980 FA Cup final? We’ll find out soon enough, after extra time and penalties if required. Kick off is at 8pm BST, 9pm in Lyon. It’s on!