ALKMAAR – After 42 years of hope, AZ Alkmaar’s attempt to reach their first European final failed. The ambitions were thwarted by West Ham United during the Conference League semi-final. The decisive goal, scored in stoppage time, gave West Ham a 0–1 win at Alkmaar, following their earlier 2–1 victory. West Ham, who won the European Cup II in 1965, now have the opportunity to face either FC Basel or Fiorentina on June 7 in Prague.
West Ham had improved their game
During the first half in Alkmaar, the team from London had improved their game considerably compared to the previous week. Despite AZ’s efforts to score, the best chances were for West Ham. Their midfielder, Lucas Paquetá, just hit the outside of the post after about 25 minutes. West Ham’s physically strong attacker, Michail Antonio, showed his dominance by simply putting AZ’s Sam Beukema away.
The return of AZ’s left winger Jesper Karlsson gave the team hope after his injury, but he too was unable to break through London’s strong defence. AZ’s biggest chance in the first half came from right back Yukinari Sugawara. However, his shot, a few minutes before the break, went wide via Nayef Aguerd’s leg. The efforts of the team remained fruitless and coach Pascal Jansen was determined to bring about a change in the second half.
Good start from AZ
The second half started with an energetic start from AZ. However, their attempts to score were unsatisfactory. Despite their best efforts, the desired goal failed to materialize, losing their chance of reaching their second European final since 1981 (against Ipswich Town in the UEFA Cup).
West Ham’s Pablo Fornals added to the dismay of the AZ supporters by scoring another goal in stoppage time to seal West Ham United’s victory.