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Fiorentina 1-2 West Ham: Match report and highlights

The Viola gave everything, but against a more cynical opponent, it wasn’t enough. I wouldn’t trade this team for anything.

ACF Fiorentina v West Ham United FC - UEFA Europa Conference League Final 2022/23 Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images


Vincenzo Italiano sprung some surprises: Luca Ranieri started at the back, with Christian Kouamé on the left wing and Luka Jović up front. David Moyes, in turn, rotated his fullbacks unexpectedly, opting for Vladimír Coufal and Emerson Palmieri. The traveling Viola fans, of course, had their say as well.

First half

From the start, Fiorentina moved the ball around, looking to exploit space and create, while West Ham defended in 2 lines of 4 and played exclusively on the counter. Declan Rice swiped a volley wide in the early going but that was the closest anyone came. While the Hammers did offer a bit of threat, it felt like the Viola had a good handle on the tempo of the game.

The real story, though, was the dreadful behavior of the English support: they rained down plastic cups whenever a Fiorentina player was near the corner, and it ended up with Cristiano Biraghi catching a lighter to the back of the head that left him bleeding. Combined with a card for a hilariously bad dive by Saïd Benhrama, one might have thought that the stereotypes had reversed between the stoic English and the skulduggerous Italians.

Fiorentina nearly took the lead right at the death, too. Nico hit a towering cross that Kouamé headed off the post, and Jović pounced on the rebound, laying out to head it off goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and in. Because Luka just can’t have nice things, though, a quick look at the monitor confirmed that he was offside, so it went into the half scoreless. Bask in Nico’s pure and unadulterated joy instead of a goal.

Second half

The pattern of the match remained unchanged, with Fiorentina trying to do stuff while West Ham tried to prevent Fiorentina from doing stuff. The opening goal was a perfect distillation of that process: Biraghi switched off on a long throw and “handled” a ball in the area, conceding the cheapest penalty you’ll ever see (AS Roma sends condolences). Saïd Benrahma banged it home, and that was that, even though the Hammers were incorrectly gifted the throw-in directly preceding the spot kick. Them’s the breaks.

It took the Viola a couple of minutes to find their feet again, but they did. Oh how they did. And it was none other than Giacomo “Only Scores Bangers” Bonaventura who, well, scored a banger off the volley to drag thing back to equilibrium.

The goal felt like it pulled the momentum back towards Fiorentina. The good guys kept pushing and had a couple of close moments—Rolando Mandragora in particular came close—even as Pietro Terracciano made a couple of prime time saves to keep the Viola in the running. As we all anticipated, it was a stoppage time defensive mixup that let Jarrod Bowen in behind to finish past a despairing Terracciano.

The good guys threw numbers forward, but West Ham was more than happy to sit deep and soak up pressure, slowing down the game and earning its first major trophy since 1980.

Full time

Goals: Bonaventura 67’ (ass. González); Benrahma 62’, Bowen 90’ (ass. Paquetá)

Cards: Mandragora 66’, Duncan (off the bench) 68’, Milenković 75’, Amrabat 85’; Benrahma 31’, Aguerd 53’, Cresswell 90’+1, Bowen 90’+7

What’s next

Nothing. The season’s over. Give these boys a break. They’ve done everything. They’ve worked. They’ve left nothing in themselves. I love them. I love this team. I’m gonna go grieve for a bit, but I’ll be back. We’ll be back. I love you all.