Declan Rice branded ‘world class’ after scoring solo goal as West Ham reach European semi-final for second consecutive year
Declan Rice helped ensure West Ham put their Premier League struggles behind them with a ‘world-class’ solo goal on Thursday night.
The Hammers played out a tight 1-1 draw in the first leg against Belgian side Ghent but beat their opponents at the London Stadium as they reached their second European semi-final in as many seasons.
Despite conceding first with the Belgian side leading 1-0 in the 26th minute, the Premier League side quickly went into action, bringing the momentum of their recent rise to league form into the draw .
With Michail Antonio shooting first and then Lucas Paqueta scoring a penalty, the West Ham skipper then found himself on the scoresheet.
But it was not a typical defensive midfield goal.
The 24-year-old England international collected the ball in his natural position after Paqueta battled for possession, leaving Rice to cross the halfway line into the Ghent penalty area.
Although Antonio was available on his right, Rice turned Ghent defender Joseph Okumu and struck the ball into the bottom corner, sending London Stadium into rapture.
With Arsenal target Rice set to leave West Ham this summer with his contract expiring next June and the Hammers flirting with relegation this season, it marked a special moment for the Irons captain and the fans.
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talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham couldn’t help but praise the Hammers skipper, writing on Twitter: “Wow. Declan Rice is world class. Just wow.”
Meanwhile, talkSPORT commentator for the game, Alex Crook, tweeted: “Great second half from West Ham. This Rice goal is one that got me off the hook in the commentary.
Antonio scored again just after the hour mark, sealing the Hammers’ 4-1 win on the night and a 5-2 aggregate win to send them through to the semi-finals of European competition for the second consecutive year for the first time since 1966.
West Ham will face Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the semi-finals and if they win the final they will claim their first title since 1980.
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