David Moyes wants West Ham to ’embrace’ another European run
David Moyes is targeting another long run in Europe for West Ham after they put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League.
Two goals from Michail Antonio were enough to beat Cypriot side AEK Larnaca 2-0 in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.
“I’m really pleased with the result,” said Moyes, who led the Hammers to the Europa League semi-finals last season.
⚒️ Antonio at the double ⚽️⚽️
📸: @WestHam || #UECL pic.twitter.com/WpblTfdT6w
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) March 9, 2023
“I didn’t enjoy long parts of the performance, but the most important thing is to come away and win.
“We scored two goals and could have scored more, but if you’d told me 2-0 before the game I’d have taken that.
“It’s nine games we’ve won in Europe now this season and that takes some doing.
“Not many managers and players get to back-to-back European quarter-finals. We’ve still got work to do to get there, but it’s not a bad achievement.
“Then the next part is getting to the semi-finals. We need to embrace it, enjoy it. There’s something different about Europe, even in a small stadium like tonight, it’s a great thrill to be involved at this level.”
It's nine games we've won in Europe now this season and that takes some doing
Moyes’ side left wintry London to take in warmer climes on the back of a sorry 4-0 defeat at Brighton which prompted the away fans to turn on the under-pressure manager.
But, after a day of sunshine and beer, the travelling support were in a far less mutinous mood on the Cyprus coast.
After a sticky start West Ham found their groove and Antonio headed in Said Benrahma’s cross to put them ahead after 36 minutes.
Antonio’s second was a beauty, a curler from 20 yards, just before half-time.
“Tonight I knew was going to be difficult,” added Moyes. “I didn’t think it would be a walkover and they did make it difficult and we held out and got a clean sheet.
“I thought Mick didn’t hold the ball up well enough in the opening part, but he did the important bit and scored. There’s been times when he’s held the ball up really well and not scored.
“I’m glad he has that in him because we needed it tonight. It’s good for Mick’s confidence as goals haven’t come easy for him and he’s very important for us.”
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola even gave a young pitch invader from the home end his shirt as he was being marched off by security.
“I saw him behind my back and saw him with the security,” said the Frenchman.
“He wanted my shirt so I gave it to him. I don’t think he was a West Ham fan, he was coming from the other side. It was good to give it to him.”