West Ham advanced to the quarter-finals of the Europa League last night,beating Sevilla 2-0 after extra time thanks to a Tomas Soucek header and a tap-in from perhaps the most popular player in London Stadium right now in Andriy Yarmolenko.
David Moyes’ side had to make do without key attacker Jarrod Bowen, while Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio were fast-tracked back to fitness after picking up knocks at the weekend, and they both put in an excellent shift.
However, perhaps the most impressive performance came from star midfielder Declan Rice, who achieved the joint highest match-rating according to SofaScore with 7.7 alongside his midfield partner Soucek.
The England midfielder said after the match last night: “I said this after the FA Cup win against Leeds, I’ll take anyone and I think the lads will take anyone as well.
“There’s no-one to fear. Sevilla were probably the favourites. When the draw came out, people thought we had the hardest draw and we were going to get knocked out… and we’ve knocked them out.
“So, look, we can go away anywhere and get a result and teams coming here know they’re in for a game when they step into this stadium with our fans, so I’m ready to take anyone.”
The England international completed an impressive 90% of his passes as West Ham controlled the game, looking comfortable in possession after the winning goal went in. Rice was a huge part of that, having also completed three dribbles and being unlucky not to pull off a fourth after fatigue kicked in and the ball trickled out of play uncontested.
On top of that, he accurately delivered six of his eight long ball attempts, including a number of excellent cross-field switches to get the wide men involved, and also into Antonio, who bullied Jules Kounde and Nemanja Gudelj all night long.
Rice also was excellent on the defensive end of his remit, winning seven of his duels and making three critical interceptions and tackles each, along with one clearance to relieve the danger for the Irons.
A reported transfer target for Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea this summer, last night showed that the 23-year-old remains as focused and determined as ever for West Ham, who will surely now believe they can go on to lift the Europa League trophy.