THAT was promised to West Ham fans.
In their first European semi-final since 1976, the club and their sunburnt supporters are back on the map.
The continent better get used to seeing West Ham tattoos on doughy limbs, East Londoners sipping beers in busy squares and songs about Jarrod Bowen fucking Dani Dyer in tiny bistros.
Three goals in TEN minutes from Craig Dawson, Declan Rice and Bowen showed they’re here to stay – so Frankfurt get your beer gardens ready.
After being robbed of their spiritual home of Upton Park for the London Stadium in 2016, co-chairman David Gold said there was no reason why they couldn’t be playing in the Champions League within five years.
It was a promise that backfired when fans used it against him in three seasons of relegation battles.
Now the club is on the right track with a brilliant semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
It’s been 46 years since they last reached a European semi-final, which also included the German side.
It’s the ultimate opportunity for the Hammers to tell the world they’re serious about competing at this level.
But also to secure a place in the Champions League as their top 4 push in the Prem represents a stretch.
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Some Irons fans visited Lyon Cathedral to pray to Saint-Jean-Baptiste for a Hammers miracle before the game.
You couldn’t exactly blame them when the odds were against them, especially on defense.
They were without Aaron Creswell after the influential left-back was controversially sent off in the 1-1 first-leg draw.
Matters got worse when Zouma failed to travel to France after twisting his ankle against Brentford last Sunday, while Angelo Ogbonna is out on a long-term basis.
The shirtless Lyon ultras were in full force with flares, fireworks, flags, drums and megaphone chants to drown out any of the visiting fans thrown to the gods.
So it’s no wonder that Peter Bosz’s team got off to a brilliant start.
Cameroonian handful Karl Toko Ekambi intervened from the right and rattled a raspy shot past Alphonse Areola and off the post.
Malo Gusto had Ben Johnson in his hands in the early stages.
He whipped in a fearsome cross that fell on Moussa Dembele but Coufal and Craig Dawson frantically scraped the line to parry it.
But the Hammers kept their nerve and bubbled back into things well.
Michail Antonio snaked his way into the box and set up Bowen, but he couldn’t direct his volley on target.
Another deflected shot from Bowen seemed to sail in, but it turned around a corner to a chorus of piercing Lyon boos.
But hero Dawson really shut her up after 37 minutes.
Pablo Fornals rolled into the delivery and the defender clocked his run perfectly to nod the opener past Julian Pollersbeck at the near post.
It’s no surprise that visiting fans paraded around the French city ahead of the game holding a sign that read ‘Ballon D’orson’.
His busted horn and goal last night were the glowing symbol that has spearheaded the Hammers’ push to European glory.
The Irons flew after Johnson muted to the left and shot into a cross that went away, but only as far as Rice.
He took an ice cold touch and cracked in the second thanks to a slight distraction a minute before the break.
The West Ham icon raced to the 3,000 traveling fans and emotionally kissed the badge to show how much it really means.
The home side felt the full brunt of their seething home fans’ frustration as they rushed in at half-time to a cacophony of boos.
West Ham made them look like mugs and just seconds after the restart Antonio hissed a low ball across the box but it was just out of Bowen’s reach.
But the winger was back with a bang to deliver the fatal blow to Lyon.
Bowen, who had plenty of space and was brought on target by Fornals, broke free to the edge of the box, kept his cool and intervened.
Lyon had a number of chances late on but it really wasn’t their day.
A corner was taken and placed at Bradley Barcola’s feet, but his attempt was wild and went well over the bar.
And Tete should have hit the target, but his shot went into the side netting.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5128838/lyon-west-ham-europa-league/ Rampant hammers rage in France as Dawson, Rice and Bowen win the first Euro semi-final since 1976