West Ham booked a Europa Conference League semi-final meeting with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar after a rousing comeback against Gent at London Stadium.

Michail Antonio scored twice, with Lucas Paqueta converting a penalty to make amends for his part in the visitors’ 26th-minute opener.

Skipper Declan Rice added a brilliant third, finding the net with a low shot at the end of a surging run that started in his own half.

It was too much in the end for Gent, who were outclassed after taking the lead on aggregate through Hugo Cuypers’ first-half strike.

‘That’s why we value Rice so highly’ – Moyes

Jarrod Bowen had a goal disallowed for handball, denying West Ham a fifth for only the second time in their European history.

As it is, they have a fifth semi-final to look forward to and retain the chance to emulate the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning side, and also to end a major trophy drought stretching back to 1980 and the FA Cup triumph against Arsenal.

For manager David Moyes, it also means what has at times been a torturous season could end in glory, although the Scot will be acutely aware European success would have to be accompanied by Premier League survival.

Bad start, brilliant ending

If there was a benefit for West Ham in going behind, it came through Sunday’s thrilling comeback against Premier League leaders Arsenal and the knowledge their task was recoverable.

Nevertheless, no-one will get too much pleasure from watching the replay of Gent’s goal, which was a catalogue of home errors.

It started with Paqueta needlessly giving the ball away deep inside his own half.

Gift Orban’s attempt to find a Gent team-mate only resulted in him rolling a wayward pass straight across the penalty area where Matisse Samoise ran on to it completely unmarked.

Samoise’s shot was awful – it bounced straight into the ground, yet no West Ham player reacted as it fell straight into Cuypers’ path.

The Belgian’s effort lacked power and, standing on the goalline, Nayef Aguerd should have kept it out. Instead, he could only help the ball in with his chest.

For 11 minutes, it threatened a sad end to West Ham’s European dream.

Instead, it sparked another memorable night.

The equaliser was routine as Antonio steered a near-post Bowen free-kick into the net.

The goal that put the Hammers in front was anything but as, at one point, Moyes had his head in his hands believing Said Benrahma should be taking the second-half spot-kick.

Fortunately, Paqueta kept his nerve to make amends for his earlier error and from then on West Ham’s semi-final place was never seriously threatened.

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