Celebrations in Larnaca

Antonio brace gives Hammers first leg advantage

AEK Larnaca 0-2 West Ham United
UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 first leg, AEK Arena – Georgios Karapatakis, Thursday 9 March 2023, 7.45pm EET (5.45pm GMT)


Michail Antonio’s first-half double saw West Ham United take a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 tie with AEK Larnaca.

The Hammers No9 struck twice in the final nine minutes of the opening period in Cyprus, first heading home from Saïd Benrahma’s cross, then curling a 20-yard effort into the top right-hand corner.

Antonio struck the post and Paquetá had a late effort saved by AEK goalkeeper Kenan Perić, and although a third goal would not arrive, the Hammers will be satisfied with taking their two-goal advantage back to London Stadium for next week’s second leg.

West Ham started the game with the majority of the ball, but AEK forced the first real spell of pressure around the 20-minute mark.

A run of three successive right-wing corners ended with Gustavo Ledes delivering an inswinger which Rafael Lopes met with a flicked header at the near post which flew over the top.

Manuel Lanzini in action at AEK Larnaca

The Hammers had to be patient as they sought an opening and Manuel Lanzini’s curling effort, which just missed the far post on 30 minutes, gave the spark which saw them take over the game.

Six minutes later, Saïd Benrahma was fed in space down the left by Aaron Cresswell, and the No22 cut onto his right foot to deliver a cross perfectly onto Antonio’s head to calmly nod into the far corner.

West Ham were in control by now and Pablo Fornals was inches away from a second as the interval neared, sending a right-footed shot whistling past the far post from 18 yards.

The visitors’ next attack, in the first minute of stoppage time, did yield a second, as Declan Rice surged through midfield to thread a pass through to Antonio. The No9 stopped as he reached the edge of the box, assessed his options, and with defender Nenad Tomović failing to close the space, rifled a shot into the top right-hand corner - his sixth goal in European competition for the Club, drawing him level with Jarrod Bowen, David Cross and Johnny Byrne as our leading all-time continental goalscorer.

Antonio scores his second
Michail Antonio scores our second

Antonio so nearly completed his hat-trick three minutes after the restart, as he ran onto Benrahma’s expertly-weighted through ball and shot low across Pirić with his left foot, but saw the effort rebound agonisingly off the inside of the post and behind the goalkeeper to safety.

The hosts tried to build a head of steam as they searched for a response and although they forced a succession of corners, Alphonse Areola’s goal was never seriously threatened. The Frenchman’s only saves of the night came in the final 20 minutes when he smothered a Imad Faraj header and held a low strike by Ivan Tričkovski.

With eight minutes to go Moyes sent on Maxwel Cornet for his first appearance since suffering a calf injury in October and he was involved in the move which could have resulted in a third for fellow sub Paquetá two minutes from the end, but after the Brazilian was played through, his shot was blocked by keeper Pirać’s left foot.

Nevertheless, Antonio’s earlier brace means the Hammers command a strong position in the tie at the half-way stage.


AEK Larnaca: Pirić, Casas (Faraj 58), Miličević, Tomović, Englezou ©, Mamas (Altman 58), Ledes, Sanjurjo, Rosales (Christoforou 87), Jakoliš (Tričkovski 77), Lopes (Nikolić 58)
Subs: Toumpas (GK), Stylianidis (GK), Gonzalez, Naoum, H. Andreou


West Ham United: Areola, Kehrer, Zouma, Aguerd, Cresswell, Rice © (Souček 60), Lanzini (Paquetá 77), Downes, Fornals (Cornet 82), Benrahma (Bowen 60), Antonio (Scamacca 60)
Subs: Hegyi (GK), Anang (GK), Johnson, Emerson, Ogbonna, Ings

Goals: Antonio 36, 45+1

Booked: Downes, Kehrer

Referee: Espen Eskås (NOR)