West Ham cruised into a first European semi-final in 46 years as they beat Lyon 3-0 in the Europa League.
Goals from Craig Dawson, Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen secured a surprisingly comfortable 4-1 aggregate success in France, setting up a last-four meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Germans were, in fact, the opposition the last time the Hammers reached this stage of continental competition – that tie coming en route to defeat in the final of the 1976 edition of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
But there will be hopes of going one better in Europe over four decades on after such a convincing win against elite opposition.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) April 14, 2022
With Lyon supporters creating an intimidating atmosphere pre-match, West Ham wasted little time in showing they would not be cowed, Pablo Fornals bursting in behind to shoot wide with just 15 seconds on the clock.
But Lyon responded well, Karl Toko Ekambi smashing the post after quick feet in the box before Houssem Aouar saw a shot blocked on the line.
The hosts were also controlling possession, and so when Ekambi kneed a Malo Gusto cross goalward soon after, it felt like the opener was coming.
Unfortunately for Lyon, it was at the other end, with sheer desire from Dawson allowing him to beat all others to a near-post Fornals corner and head home.
Not content to sit on their lead, West Ham then doubled the advantage before the break as a low Rice shot from the edge of the box found the back of the net after taking a nick off Castello Lukeba.
That late blow prompted Peter Bosz to roll the dice, Lucas Paqueta and Mateus Tete coming on at half-time to replace Tanguy Ndombele and Romain Faivre.
But there was to be no quick fix, with Bowen breaking free just three minutes after the restart and producing a cool right-footed finish to all but settle the tie.
Lyon did not stop trying to make things interesting from there on in, their best chance seeing Gusto force Alphonse Areola to push a powerful shot around the post.
But a first failure to trouble the scoresheet at home in the Europa League since the 2013-14 season ultimately ensured that West Ham had little trouble seeing out the win.
What does it mean? West Ham deserve to dream
With the tie delicately poised at 1-1 and Lyon sure to be roared on by an enthusiastic home crowd, this game felt like a major test of an inexperienced West Ham side’s European credentials.
But the ease with which they passed it can only provide a major boost to belief among David Moyes’ squad that something special is in the offing this season.
After failing to pull up any trees during his time in the Premier League, Ndombele might have hoped to make a point with his performance against English opposition here.
But the midfielder won just 40 per cent of his five duels and surrendered possession on five occasions before being hooked at half-time.
Fornals a creative star
It feels unfair to highlight any one player after West Ham performed so impressively from front to back against top-level opposition.
However, Fornals’ influence on both sides of the ball can be fairly summed up by his team-high 66 touches, two assists, and four interceptions.
West Ham return to Premier League action on Sunday when they host struggling Burnley. Lyon, meanwhile, face Bordeaux at home on the same day.