Quarter-Final First Leg vs Gent (1-1)
The only game West Ham did not win. The Hammers played poorly away in Belgium but went into the lead when Vladimir Coufal thought quickly and took a throw-in while Gent had switched off. Danny Ings tapped in from close range. However, Hugo Cuypers levelled things, all to play for in London.
Quarter-Final Second Leg vs Gent (4-1)
West Ham were on the ropes, that man Cuypers again put the visitors ahead. A hero was needed and there were many as the lads turned it on. Antonio headed home and Paqueta converted a penalty in stylish fashion and danced, scoring his first home goal.
Gent were then blitzed and torn apart by a surging run from Rice, who picked up the ball and charged the length of the pitch before finishing coolly. Goal of the Conference League maybe? Antonio then got the fourth in a memorable night. The dream started to feel real.
Semi-Final First Leg vs AZ Alkmaar (2-1)
Again, a bad start when Alphonse Areola let in a long-shot. A feeling of panic hung over the ground. West Ham lost last year their home leg in a semi-final and it could not happen again if they wanted to make the showpiece in Prague.
AZ time-wasted to the frustration of everyone and players fumed at a poor refereeing performance. West Ham’s luck seemed to be out but keeper Mat Ryan punched Bowen as both contested for the ball. Benrahma kept his nerve in the key moment and scored. It was a must-win clash and we did it when Antonio tapped in from yards out. One foot in the final.
Semi-Final Second Leg vs AZ Alkmaar (1-0)
Moyes believed AZ didn’t have enough to hurt West Ham and parked the bus in Holland. The boys gave the Dutch as taste of their own medicine, time-wasting and killing the game. West Ham defender well with Nayef Aguerd, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell and Thilo Kehrer all standing strong under the protection of Rice and Tomas Soucek.
Nerves grew but Fornals wrapped our final spot up with a wonderful solo goal. Jubilant celebrations began and continued long into the night with wild dressing room videos posted online.
The match was marred by crowd trouble as ultras tried to attack our players’ families sat behind the dugouts. A hero named Knollsy fought off the attackers and got legendary status. Downes and Paqueta jumped in to protect their families too, getting involved in fights.