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West Ham host Lyon as European run recalls memories of halcyon days

PARIS (AFP) – West Ham United host Lyon in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final today with the Hammers’ run in continental competition bringing back memories of the club’s halcyon days.

They have not seen a European quarter-final in the east end of London since 1981, when second-division West Ham lost to eventual winners Dinamo Tbilisi in the last eight of the Cup Winners Cup.

Their best years came before that, with Bobby Moore captaining the team to victory in the 1965 Cup Winners Cup and a side featuring Frank Lampard senior reaching the final of the same tournament in 1976.

On that occasion they lost to a brilliant Anderlecht team, but returning to another European final is now the dream, almost half a century later.

After ousting record six-time winners Sevilla in the last round, a meeting with Lyon will hold no fears for David Moyes’s men, who are sixth in the Premier League.

“It’s very exciting. I’ve been here a long time and seen the lows of relegation battles to being in the quarter-final of the Europa League,” Aaron Cresswell told the club’s website.

“That’s what we want as a club, we want progression and as players we want to play in those competitions against the best players in the world. It’s fantastic.”

Lyon have a fantastic recent pedigree in Europe, reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2020 and the last four of the Europa League in 2017.

They knocked out Porto in the last round, but it is hard to know what the true face of Peter Bosz’s side is just now – they lie in mid-table in Ligue 1.

Lyon are missing gifted midfielder Maxence Caqueret due to injury but anything is possible for them if the likes of Lucas Paqueta and Houssem Aouar perform to the best of their ability.

Whoever wins that tie – the second leg will be played next week – will face Eintracht Frankfurt or a resurgent Barcelona in the semi-finals.

The Catalans must now be seen as the favourites to win the Europa League as they head to Germany on a run of 13 games unbeaten.

Opponents Eintracht sit mid-table in the Bundesliga but they have beaten Bayern Munich this season and knocked out another Spanish side in the last round, ending the prospects of Betis reaching the final in Seville.

Germany is the only country with two teams left in the Europa League, as RB Leipzig host Atalanta in the first leg.