West Ham manager David Moyes declared his side needs Declan Rice "to drive us on" if they are to come back from a 2-1 deficit against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-final.

The first leg, played at London Stadium, got off to the worst possible start as the visitors scored inside the opening minute, with Michail Antonio replying in the first half before Daichi Kamada scored the Frankfurt winner after 54 minutes.

Whichever team advances to the final will meet the winner of RB Leipzig and Rangers.

Rice has been the driving force behind West Ham's season and has become one of the best central midfielders in the Premier League. Now, Moyes wants the 23-year-old to push the Hammers into a first major European final since 1976.

"I say to Declan Rice every week 'you have to drive them on, every day in training – the levels and standards have to be taken higher'," Moyes told a news conference.

"Every day you have to drive them on, the levels. He has the chance to work with some of the best players in the country when he goes away with England – Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, you name it – and he has to bring that back to our camp and demand it from the other boys.

Rice has, quite literally, played a key role in progressing West Ham to this huge tie, having made 182 ball carries in the Europa League this season, second only to Barcelona's Eric Garcia (191).

The total distance of Rice's carries amounts to 2,083 metres, more than 400 metres more than any other central midfield player this campaign. Moyes did stress, though, that it is important not to put the onus all on one talismanic player.

"We also mustn't put too much on Dec’s shoulders! I’m the one who's said it because he's such a quality player and he's got tremendous abilities," Moyes continued.

"I challenge him a lot, but we need to get a whole team performance and everybody needs to perform well. 

"We need Dec to drive us on, but we need him to play with a really steady, experienced head for somebody who's young."

Moyes' second spell in charge has seen West Ham transform from relegation candidates to being on the brink of a European final in the space of two years.

"Our climb over the last two years has probably been faster [than we'd expect] and sometimes you have to come down a little bit to go again – but hopefully, we continue to build and grow, and that’s what I'm trying to drive home," Moyes added.

"The biggest thing I've seen is the mentality change in the players here – it's incredible. The demand really is that we try and improve, and I put it on them.

"They need to be the ones who do it as well. The manager is always the one who gets found out if it happens or not, but sometimes the players need to be the ones who roll their sleeves up and not accept anything other than the best."

Eintracht Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner believes the "whole of Germany" will be behind them as they bid to reach the Europa League final.

Glasner's side hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their semi-final with West Ham and will look to finish the job on home soil.

Eintracht won the trophy under its UEFA Cup guise back in 1980, their only other major European final coming in 1960 when they lost the European Cup showpiece to Real Madrid.

Their run to this stage has already included a stunning victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou, with Glasner hopeful their home support can get them over the line against West Ham.

"We'll play to win from the get-go with our fans behind us," Glasner told a news conference.

"Our strategy must involve causing problems to the opposition defence. We need an even better performance than the first leg.

"I get the feeling that the whole of Germany are Eintracht fans in Europe. There's recognition for our performances, but it's not about living in the past – we need to stay focused.

"We expect a West Ham team that will try everything to win and reach the final. I told my players that our focus is to play to win.

"The order is clear: to play forward and to put the West Ham defence to the test."

They reached the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2018-19, losing to another London club – Chelsea – on that occasion.

In their history as a professional club, Eintracht have only lost one semi-final match when playing at home (P12 W9 D2), losing 0-3 to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal in 1992-93.

History is on Eintracht's side heading into Thursday's contest with the Hammers, as the last team to progress from a Europa League semi-final after losing the first leg was Liverpool in 2016.

West Ham have identified two offenders responsible for the alleged attack on two German commentators during Thursday's Europa League clash with Eintracht Frankfurt.

The alleged incident at the London Stadium is said to have taken place after Michail Antonio had equalised 21 minutes into the semi-final first-leg tie.

German outlet Bild reported during the match that the commentators, who were working for ARD, had their headsets ripped off and were punched several times.

West Ham believe they have found those responsible and have threatened the pair with lifetime bans if found guilty.

"In line with our zero-tolerance approach, the offenders' details have been passed onto the police, who will now conduct their own investigation," a West Ham spokesperson said.

"If the offenders are found guilty, they will be given an indefinite ban and not be permitted to enter London Stadium, nor travel with the club. 

"Behaviour of this kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at West Ham United."

Frankfurt won the game 2-1 in London thanks to goals from Ansgar Knauff and Daichi Kamada either side of Antonio's close-range finish.

The return leg takes place at Deutsche Bank Park next Thursday, with the winners to face either RB Leipzig or Rangers in next month's final in Seville.

 

West Ham are investigating allegations that two German commentators were attacked by supporters during Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg against Eintracht Frankfurt.

German outlet Bild reported during the match that the commentators, who were working for ARD, had their headsets ripped off and were punched several times.

The alleged incident at the London Stadium is said to have taken place after Michail Antonio scored in the 21st minute to cancel out Ansgar Knauff's early opener.

A West Ham statement on Friday read: "The club is aware of the incident and will be working to identify the offender. 

"In line with our zero-tolerance approach, anyone identified will have their details passed to the police.

"They will be given an indefinite ban and be unable to enter London Stadium and travel with the club. There is no place for this kind of behaviour."

German journalist Philipp Hofmeister, one of those reported to have been targeted, tweeted after the match: "We are doing okay. 

"Best wishes to all West Ham supporters who love football and respect their opponents."

Frankfurt went on to win the game 2-1 thanks to Daichi Kamada's 54th-minute tap-in. The return leg takes place at Deutsche Bank Park next Thursday.

A stunning volley from Angelino gave RB Leipzig a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final with Rangers on Thursday.

Domenico Tedesco's men were the aggressors for much of the game, but the Bundesliga side struggled to create chances against a resolute Gers backline, until the former Manchester City left-back's strike with five minutes remaining.

Leipzig dangerman Christopher Nkunku – who has 30 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season – was unable to add to his tally, with the visitors keeping the Frenchman relatively quiet at Red Bull Arena.

It was not quite the famous night in Germany that Rangers experienced earlier in the campaign when they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 at Signal Iduna Park, but with just a one-goal deficit, it leaves the tie open ahead of the second leg at Ibrox next week.

Despite a dominant start, the closest Leipzig came in the first half was when Konrad Laimer managed to break down the left side of the Rangers penalty area, but his shot was well blocked by Connor Goldson.

The Scottish side were happy to sit deep and try and release Ryan Kent and Scott Wright with long balls, which could explain why their pass completion percentage in the first half was just 66.9.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst's side had their first real chance early in the second half when Kent received the ball in space on the left, before beating his man on the outside and firing a shot across Peter Gulacsi's goal, but wide.

The first shot on target arrived in the 53rd minute as Nkunku hit a strong effort from just outside the box, which Allan McGregor palmed away, with the former Paris Saint-Germain attacker then somehow missing the target after rounding McGregor with 20 minutes to go.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 85th minute when a corner from Nkunku was headed away by Fashion Sakala, only for Angelino to volley the ball back through everyone and past the despairing dive of McGregor as the German side take a slender lead to Scotland.

Eintracht Frankfurt took a significant step towards the Europa League final with another impressive away win, beating West Ham 2-1 at London Stadium in their semi-final first leg.

The Bundesliga side had beaten Barcelona away from home to reach this stage and showed why they had caused the Blaugrana such problems in their latest exciting attacking display that featured the earliest ever Europa League semi-final goal.

That Ansgar Knauff header after 50 seconds was cancelled out by Michail Antonio later in the first half, but Frankfurt were firmly on top following the restart.

Daichi Kamada tapped in what proved to be the winner on the night, with Jarrod Bowen almost stealing a draw when an audacious acrobatic effort cannoned off the crossbar in injury time leaving David Moyes' West Ham a tough task heading to Germany for next week's return match.

Knauff had netted in the home draw with Barcelona and got his name on the scoresheet again when found by Rafael Borre's cross from the left corner of the West Ham penalty area, in behind Pablo Fornals and able to head into the bottom-left corner.

Bowen should have equalised before Antonio did, shooting against the post after running clear but let off the hook as Kurt Zouma – cleared to start following an ankle injury – headed Manuel Lanzini's free-kick down for West Ham's number nine to toe across the line.

Knauff squandered an opportunity to restore Frankfurt's lead before the break, yet Kamada made no mistake nine minutes into the second period, almost walking the ball into the net when Alphonse Areola parried Djibril Sow's effort at the end of an incisive move.

Kamara almost added another on the counter as West Ham went looking for a second leveller, seeing his curler deflected onto the post, although there could have been a dramatic final twist when Bowen's overhead kick bounced away off the woodwork at the last.

David Moyes acknowledged that West Ham being one step away from the Europa League final may have stunned most, including himself, last season.

West Ham qualified for UEFA's secondary club football competition by finishing sixth in the 2020-21 Premier League and have adapted well to European football.

The Hammers also emerged as early contenders to qualify for the Champions League this season, but now sit seventh – eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal having played a game more – with their focus seemingly on Europe.

West Ham defeated Europa League specialists Sevilla and Lyon to reach the final four, where they will meet Eintracht Frankfurt, who defeated Barcelona at the quarter-final stage.

Indeed, it will be West Ham's first semi-final in a major competition since 2013-14, when they lost 9-0 on aggregate against Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

While Moyes expressed his surprise that his side had made it this far in their first year in Europe since falling in the 2016-17 Europa League play-off to Astra Giurgiu, the Scotsman remains confident.

"It's good to be nervous," Moyes told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Wednesday ahead of the first leg at home to Eintracht on Thursday.

"It makes you realise the level of the game, but you want the players to play with confidence and do a lot of things naturally in the game – but I think nerves are really important for the players to understand the level we're at.

"It's a great game. We're hugely excited by it. The thrill of qualifying for Europe last year was great.

"If you'd have said to us in May last year 'you're going to be in the semi-finals of the Europa League, with the chance of getting to the final,' I think we'd have all said, 'you're joking'.

"We're in a really good place and I think we're worthy of it. Beating Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea at home shows that on our home patch, on our day, we can be a good match for just about any team."

Central to the success of West Ham has been the presence of England international Declan Rice and the scoring form of Jarrod Bowen, who has 17 direct goal involvements in the Premier League this season.

Only Mason Mount (19) and Harry Kane (20) can boast more among English players in the Premier League, leading to calls for Bowen to feature in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad at Qatar 2022.

Moyes cited former Hull City forward Bowen and Czech Republic duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek as vital for the upturn in West Ham's fortunes.

"When I first returned, I honestly thought if I could get it going, I'd get a team challenging around the top of the league. That's what I planned," Moyes added.

"I think for most of my career, I've been closer to that than the bottom, even though I've come back a couple of times to take over a team near the bottom, but I always felt if I could get a chance to get it done...

"On that journey, you need to make sure your recruitment is good. We signed a couple of Czech boys on the journey who have been brilliant for us, and we took Jarrod Bowen from the Championship, whose gone on to do great things. Sometimes you need bits of that for all those things to happen.

"Is it by luck, by plan or design? I hope it's a bit of both. Sometimes it doesn't always go right when you're a manager, and for the majority of managers it's very difficult, but I always felt that if I could get it going here, I could get a team challenging."

It will be Moyes' first semi-final since 2013-14, when his Manchester United side were defeated by Sunderland in the EFL Cup, while he is the first Scottish manager to reach the semi-final stage of the UEFA Cup or Europa League since 2007-08.

But Moyes appreciates the job is not completed as his side prepare to meet Eintracht in European competition for just the second time, West Ham previously eliminating the German side at the semi-final stage of the 1975-76 Cup Winners' Cup.

"I've still got a long way to go. I've got to win a two-legged semi-final and then I would need to, if I was good enough to do that, try to win a final – so from my point of view, there's still a long way to go," he said.

"To bring West Ham from where it's been, to where we are today, is huge.

"People who know West Ham far better than I do will tell you that to get to the semi-final of a European competition and give ourselves a real chance of getting to a final is something really special. It's not easy to do.

"I think when the tournament started, people were asking me if I thought we were favourites in the tournament, and I said: 'No, what a load of rubbish.' All the Champions League team were still to drop in.

"We did a really good job in the group – the whole squad did a brilliant job winning the group – and then we've had two huge ties, which all the teams are going to have.

"We're now in a semi-final. You would always like the second leg at home, but we're at home in the first leg, so we have to deal with that, but I think we're in a good place and we have to try to challenge to get to the final."

Manchester United should not be expected to win trophies under Erik ten Hag immediately, says Gary Neville, warning it is a long job for the Dutchman with a mentally shot squad at Old Trafford.

The Ajax boss will take the reins from interim manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season, with the Red Devils arguably facing their lowest point in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

Questions over whether a squad low on confidence can challenge for Champions League football remains in the air, and several key players look destined for the door.

Hopes are high that Ten Hag can facilitate a fast turnaround - but speaking after his appointment, former defender Neville has warned there will be no quick fix at the Theatre of Dreams.

"What we're seeing at this current moment is unacceptable," Neville told Sky Sports News. "Ten Hag has got a big job to get the club back up to those minimum standards.

"They need to achieve [...] attitude, work ethic, belief, confidence and then hopefully you start to think about winning trophies.

"But honestly, I wouldn't be putting too much pressure on Ten Hag in the first one or two years to win a trophy at the club. It would be great if he did and he'd be overachieving, in my opinion.

"It will be: get into the top four, re-establish Man Utd in the Champions League, attract the players into the club who can play in the way he wants to play, and then get a system of belief.

"It took Jurgen Klopp four or five years to win a Premier League title. I wouldn't be putting pressure on Ten Hag to win a Premier League title. They're a million miles away from that.

"At the end of last season, I thought they were getting closer. But it's all collapsed and fallen to pieces. I don't know why that's happened. Ten Hag gets to pick up the pieces."

It has been a dramatic fall from grace for United, after their much-vaunted rebuild under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked on the cusp of paying dividends last term.

But since their Europa League final defeat at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, they have delivered few statement performances, and Neville believes the losing feeling will be hard to shake.

"The players have completely lost their confidence and belief," he added. "They don't want to play football for Manchester United at this moment in time.

"That's not they don't want to play football for the club - they don't want to play football. They want the season to finish. You can see it in their eyes. They just want these games over.

"But the problem is there is no hiding place at this club. All the eyes are still going to be on them and they're going to have to try to turn up. They've got to find something from somewhere.

"I want to be careful in saying there's long-lasting damage but the mental impact of what's happening, that's going to have [a] long-lasting impact on some of those lads."

Ten Hag will succeed Rangnick, with the German expected to remain at the club on a consultancy basis - and Neville feels that it will be the latter who helps the Dutchman dictate transfer policy.

"Recruitment is the most important job in a football club," he said. "If you get the players wrong, you're struggling.

"Rangnick has had four or five months to assess that dressing room. I'm pretty certain they'll be having pretty direct conversations about who he needs to get rid of.

"It's on the tip of Rangnick's tongue in every single interview he does and you feel like he's going to go rogue at some point and start calling players out.

"He's doing it in groups, but there's no doubt Rangnick will be passing on that very specific information about who Ten Hag needs to get rid of - and I'm sure Ten Hag will listen and buy into that."

Barcelona face a fan boycott for Monday's LaLiga game against Cadiz after a group of supporters announced they would stay away in a protest over what they called "the greatest infamy at our home".

The massed ranks of Eintracht Frankfurt fans at Camp Nou on Thursday for the Europa League quarter-final second leg has incensed many at Barca.

Club president Joan Laporta has said he was "ashamed" with the ticketing situation against the Bundesliga side that allowed tens of thousands of away supporters into the stadium.

Head coach Xavi has said the matter is being investigated internally, with Barcelona's 3-2 defeat and exit from the competition having compounded the misery 

The Grada d'Animacio (Animation Stand) group, which provides considerable colour and noise at home games, announced its boycott on Sunday, issuing a statement on Twitter.

"Last Thursday we experienced a day that will be marked forever as the greatest infamy at our home," the group's statement said.

It added: "As fans and members of FC Barcelona we have experienced many victories and many defeats on the field of play, but as a fan group, we have experienced a social humiliation that we will never forget."

The group said the system that allowed Frankfurt visitors to acquire tickets for the game had failed Barca fans, adding that the mass buy-up should have been detected and prevented.

The fan body also questioned whether it had come as a surprise to Barcelona that so many German fans had attended, or whether it had been allowed to bring in money at the box office.

According to the Grada d'Animacio, there were more than 30,000 Frankfurt fans at the game.

The fan group also questioned what might have happened if the visiting supporters were spoiling for a fight.

"Who knows where we would be right now with another group of fans," the group's statement added.

"Our task is simple but very complicated, to set the mood and help cheer up the rest of the stadium to get victories, because we are very clear that as fans we are the 12th team player.

"However, the events that took place on Thursday meant that we were forced to take action, as we did during the match and on other occasions, and that is precisely why we will attend the next match between FC Barcelona and Cadiz.

"We are convinced that, as members and fans of FC Barcelona, ​​we cannot ever allow again a remotely similar situation, and we ask the parties involved to remember that not everything in life is a few million, especially if we talk about a club that has as a motto 'more than a club'."

Xavi urged Barcelona to "keep believing in the project" after his side crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday.

Barca stumbled in the Europa League quarter-final as they were eliminated by Eintracht Frankfurt, but their LaLiga form remains impressive and has guided them to second in the table.

The Blaugrana are 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who play third-placed Sevilla on Sunday, and are unbeaten in their last 15 Spanish top-flight games, winning their last seven.

Xavi insists his team must forget about the failure in Europe if they are to register eight straight league wins for the first time since January 2019 when they host Cadiz on Monday.

"When we started in November, we knew we needed to be more competitive, that five or six years ago we didn't compete well enough in Europe," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"We have to keep believing in the project, we competed well in Napoli, not against Eintracht.

"It's a tough blow, they've eliminated us from the Europa League that we hoped to win to qualify for the Champions League and we haven't succeeded.

"We are encouraging the group, making them see where we have failed, also what we have done well. In short, it is to continue believing in what we are working on. Little by little, with patience.

"Now it's time to focus on securing the Champions League [via LaLiga]."

As for questions over his tactical methods, Xavi responded: "We have won five Champion League titles with this style. The style that [Johan] Cruyff imposed has given us much success.

"If we have doubts, we must improve this game system, what we must not do is rest on it. If we are making mistakes, we must improve it."

Barca will be hoping to have the Camp Nou filled by home fans against Cadiz, as opposed to the masses of away Eintracht fans – estimated to have been around 25,000 – that made it in for the Europa League.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta acknowledged he was "ashamed" with the ticketing situation against the Bundesliga side, and Xavi confirmed the matter was being investigated internally.

"The club is working to solve it, as soon as they have an explanation, first they will tell us and then the media," he added.

"The players did not feel at home. It was a bad night in every way."

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini blasted the "absolute confusion" of the refereeing performance in his side's Europa League quarter-final exit to RB Leipzig on Thursday.

La Dea had high hopes following their draw in the first leg, but a Christopher Nkunku brace handed Leipzig a 2-0 win instead, with the German side going through 3-1 on aggregate.

With Atlanta down 1-0 on Thursday, however, Antonio Mateu Lahoz waved away what appeared to be a handball from Leipzig's Dani Olmo and also waved away the consequent call for a VAR review.

Nkunku then punished Atalanta for a second time in transition, while Gasperini was left to bemoan the lack of consistency in refereeing interpretation and decision-making with the tie in the balance.

"The strange thing is that he [Mateu Lahoz] gave a punishment that for me was a less obvious foul than it was a penalty. There is absolute confusion on handballs," he said. "The referee himself, in 30 seconds, evaluates the first instance more serious than the second which is much clearer.

"Well, it's not like you can cancel it [from context]. We had a good match, we conceded something, as is normal in these matches. There are goal situations on both sides in Europe. Everyone has an important attacking quality. It wasn't the defence that penalised us."

According to the 64-year-old, the penalty reinforced Atalanta's need to chase the result, which played into the fast, dynamic and ultimately reactive RB Leipzig's hands.

"It is always like this," he said. "They have pace and speed, they play very tightly and then go on the counter-attack.

"Sometimes they do them very well, we attacked for a very long time and unfortunately in recent weeks we have had difficulty in finding the final pass, the decisive shot. Even if for long stretches it was an excellent match for Atalanta."

Champions League qualification is likely unattainable now for La Dea, who sit 12 points off fourth-placed Juventus in Serie A, but are also four points behind Lazio in the Conference League playoff spot. They face Hellas Verona on Monday.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has assured the club's supporters there will be an explanation for the massive presence of Eintracht Frankfurt fans, as the home side was knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday.

A massive contingent of Eintracht fans witnessed and celebrated their club winning 3-2 in the quarter-final second leg at the Camp Nou, rubbing salt in the wound for the Blaugrana.

Barcelona gave 5,000 tickets to Eintracht as per UEFA regulations, but reports from the ground suggested figures of Eintracht fans nearing five times that initial ticket release.

Alluding to the sale of tickets on the secondary market, Laporta – who started his second term as the embattled club's president in 2021 – apologised for the situation and vowed there will not be a repeat.

"What has happened in the stands is a shame that cannot be repeated, we must process information and we have to take action, but it is unfortunate," Laporta told Mundo Deportivo.

"We will have to be stricter and not allow certain things, I feel ashamed as a Barcelona fan. I feel embarrassed with what I saw in the stands, I apologise.

"It was very serious. We are processing all the information, and we will give explanations. What happened today is not usual and should not have happened."

Enric Masip, Laporta's advisor at Barcelona, voiced his anger at the situation, which reportedly caused fans at the stadium to protest.

"Everyone has the right to sell their tickets but the reality is that seeing a Camp Nou with so many opposition fans is very, very bad," he posted on Twitter.

Following their eliminations from the Champions League and Copa Del Rey, and with a 12-point deficit to Real Madrid in the league, Barcelona's exit from the Europa League will likely leave them without a trophy this season.

Laporta believes the club needs to reinforce its identity as a result.

"If it is a failure then we will learn from our mistakes, this defeat should make us believe more in our ideas," he said.

"We haven't been able to win, we've lost the tie and we have to accept it, we're all sad and angry but we have to keep going and fight for the league."

Barcelona boss Xavi says Eintracht Frankfurt fully deserved their stunning 3-2 victory in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Filip Kostic scored twice, the first of which came from the penalty spot, and Rafael Borre slammed in from long range as the Bundesliga side sealed a memorable 4-3 aggregate win over the Catalan giants, who scored twice in stoppage time through Sergio Busquets' fine strike and a Memphis Depay penalty.

The result ended Barca's 15-game unbeaten run, which was the longest in the top five European leagues, while it was only the second time in their last seven knockout ties in Europe when they have avoided defeat in the first leg that they have been eliminated.

Xavi had no complaints about the result and admitted his side were well off the pace they have set in recent months.

"We scored two goals but we weren't able to attack in the best way," he told a media conference.

"We didn't play as well as in other games and they came out very well on the counter-attack. They had that first penalty that went very well for them and then with a great goal with a silly loss from us on the right.

"We have had control but we haven't generated enough to hurt them, and they have done it with little [of the game]. With a penalty, with a counter from a loss from us and the third comes from a play after we had been pressing.

"They are mistakes that we have paid for. This is what happens in Europe and we leave disappointed.

"It's not a failure. We've tried. It's a disappointment because we had high hopes and we've put everything on the pitch, and in the end Frankfurt won. It's a competition and if there is failure we are going to learn.

"We can only congratulate them because they deserved it."

A significant number of Frankfurt supporters roared their side on, with far more than their allocation of 5,000 present in the stadium.

Xavi says that had an impact on his side and confirmed the club is looking into why there were so many opposition fans.

"The atmosphere hasn't helped us," he added. "We expected some 70,000 or 80,000 people from Catalonia and that hasn't happened. It looked like a final with divided support. I think the club is checking what happened."

Barca are next in action on Monday when they host Cadiz in LaLiga.

Declan Rice has revealed how the antics of Moussa Dembele and a post from Lyon's social media team inspired West Ham to reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Prior to Thursday night's rematch between the sides, footage had circulated of Dembele winking to team-mates after appearing to go down easily to earn Aaron Cresswell a soft first-leg red card.

That decision contributed to the tie being finally poised at 1-1 going into the second leg in France; it also perhaps led to some overconfidence from the hosts.

As much could be seen in a reply from Lyon's official English language account on Twitter to the question of which teams looked best placed to progress this week.

It read: "Are you really asking like there's a chance we don't go through?"

Speaking after a 3-0 win saw the Hammers ease through to the last four, Rice confirmed that both perceived slights had ultimately served as motivation.

He told BT Sport: "There were a few incentives for us to go out there and win.

"Obviously, Dembele winking in the first leg at the camera, and then their Twitter admin saying they don't see how they're not going to get through.

"Those things come back to bite you. We stayed quiet, put in a performance, and now West Ham are in the semis. What more could we want?"

Lyon's belief no doubt stemmed from the knowledge they would have a raucous home crowd cheering them on in the return leg.

However, according to Rice, the atmosphere actually pushed the visitors to play their best game.

England international Rice said: "I feel like if you can't get up for these games then you shouldn't be playing football. The roar from the warm-up was spine-tingling, really. It just really gives you that fire in your stomach to go out and perform.

"[It feels] special, very, very special. We knew it was a tough place to come, we knew they had top individual quality.

"But with what we had on the pitch, our attacking players, and what we saw in the first game in terms of them defensively, we knew we could score goals tonight. For all the fans, it's just such a great night."

Manager David Moyes used his post-match interview to reflect on his team's short journey from relegation battlers to European silverware hopefuls.

Moyes said: "We've got a really good group of lads, I'm really lucky. They've been great in the time we've been here. We were trying to avoid relegation and now we're talking about getting to the semi-final of a European tournament, it's fabulous. I think it's been huge what we've done in two years.

"We've not won any trophies yet, we're trying to compete and qualify for European football again if we can.

"But I think to be getting to the latter stages and beating Sevilla and now Lyon - big clubs, big teams who are used to European football...

"You don't win anything tonight, but it was a big night for us. To come away and win 3-0 in Europe - a really, really good result."

Kemar Roofe scored an extra-time winner as Rangers secured their place in the Europa League semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over nine-man Braga, who lost 3-2 on aggregate.

James Tavernier's first-half double, including a penalty awarded after Vitor Tormena was dismissed for a foul on Roofe, put Rangers in control with a 2-1 aggregate lead.

David Carmo's 83rd-minute header sent the tie into extra-time before Roofe, who had two goals disallowed, netted the decisive strike prior to Iuri Medeiros being given his marching orders.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men will next face RB Leipzig, who defeated Atalanta 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday, with the first leg of the last-four clash coming on April 28.

Rangers struck first when Tavernier rolled underneath Matheus at the back post after a deflection from Joe Aribo following Borna Barisic's cross.

The hosts were in dreamland three minutes later when Roofe headed home another delivery from Barisic, only for the goal to be ruled out for handball against the full-back.

Roofe then fired against the crossbar from point-blank range following Aribo's flick from a Tavernier corner as Rangers continued to dominate, and their reward arrived soon after.

Tormena was shown red for felling Roofe when through on goal, with Tavernier converting the penalty down the middle.

Roofe saw another strike ruled out in the second half, this time for offside, after chipping Matheus, before Carmo levelled with a powerful header from Medeiros' corner.

Conor Goldson nodded wide in the closing stages before extra-time, where Roofe latched onto Aribo's low cross to turn home from close range.

Medeiros was shown two yellow cards in quick succession for a foul on Leon Balogun and his subsequent riled reaction, before Scott Arfield hit the crossbar, but that miss did not come back to haunt Rangers.

What does it mean? Rangers overcome knockout specialists Braga

Braga had progressed from their previous nine ties in the UEFA Cup and Europa League when winning the first leg, with eight of those previous nine victories coming in home matches.

But Rangers ended that stellar record as they battled valiantly to overturn a first-leg deficit in Europe's secondary club competition for the third time in their last four attempts.

Now, Van Bronckhorst's men must overcome in-form Bundesliga side Leipzig to reach the final.

Terrific Tavernier

Tavernier offered Rangers the perfect start when he netted their fastest goal in the competition after just 71 seconds, and it was also the earliest Braga have conceded in the Europa League.

The hosts' captain then added his second from 12 yards as he became the joint-top scorer in this season's competition (six). No Rangers player has ever scored more in a single European campaign (also Alfredo Morelos in 2019-20 and James Forrest in 1964-65).

Vitor Tormen-ted

Tormena handed Rangers the perfect opportunity to take the aggregate lead by barging through the back of Roofe when he was one-on-one with Matheus.

Not only was the left-back given his early marching orders, but he also gave away possession the most times before his dismissal (eight) and was unsuccessful in all of his three duels.

Medeiros' red then made matters worse as Braga became the first side since Rangers last season to have two players sent off in the same knockout game in the competition.

What's next?

Rangers return to domestic action with an Old Firm clash against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals on Sunday, while Braga visit Estoril the following day.

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