Czech police have drafted in an extra 250 officers ahead of the Europa Conference League final between West Ham and Fiorentina in Prague.

Local police are working in conjunction with state police and UEFA to ensure the match passes off peacefully.

However, one officer told the PA news agency there had already been “a couple of incidents” involving West Ham fans, and added that they are “prepared for trouble”.

Around 20,000 Hammers fans are expected to travel to the Czech capital, but the majority are without tickets as both clubs only have an allocation of less than 5,000 each for the match.

Thousands had already arrived in Prague by Tuesday afternoon, the day before the final.

Fan parks will be set up in the city centre so those supporters without tickets can watch the match on a big screen.

A shuttle bus service has also been arranged to ferry fans straight from the airport to the parks.

West Ham’s semi-final victory at AZ Alkmaar was marred by a large group of Dutch fans attempting to storm a section full of the friends and family of West Ham’s players and staff.

Wednesday’s final is West Ham’s first in Europe since 1976, and they are bidding to win a first trophy since the FA Cup 43 years ago.

Kyle Walker was not involved as Manchester City held an open training session on Tuesday ahead of the Champions League final.

The England full-back was substituted in the latter stages of City’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday.

All other players were present as City continued preparations for the encounter with Inter Milan in Istanbul this weekend.

Manager Pep Guardiola was due to give an update on the fitness of his squad at a press conference later in the afternoon.

Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister is to undergo a medical with Liverpool.

The PA news agency understands the Seagulls have given permission for the 24-year-old World Cup winner to begin the process of finalising his transfer to Anfield.

Mac Allister’s father, Carlos, who acts as his representative, arrived at the weekend for talks regarding the Argentina international’s future.

It is understood the Argentina international has a release clause, believed to be between £45million and £55m, in a contract he only signed in October, and Brighton allowing him to have a medical means Liverpool are edging closer to securing a player who emerged as their top transfer target after pulling out of the race for Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham.

Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi admitted last month he is already resigned to losing Mac Allister, who was key in securing their first European participation with a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, just five points behind Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp is looking to rebuild a midfield which misfired this season and Mac Allister has been a long-term target, with James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain departing at the end of their contracts.

Liverpool were also interested in Mason Mount, entering the final 12 months of his contract at Chelsea, but Manchester United appear to be the front-runners and Klopp does not want to get into a protracted – and often expensive  – process so has moved on to other players.

The Reds have been linked with Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch, Nice’s Khephren Thuram and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Manu Kone and will be looking to get their business done early in time for the start of pre-season on July 8.

Ange Postecoglou will be the first Australian to manage in the Premier League after taking up the reins at Tottenham.

Australia will be the 25th nation to provide a permanent Premier League boss and one of eight to be represented by just a single manager.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the one-offs.

Australia – Ange Postecoglou

Tottenham – 2023 –

The Premier League’s last recruit, Postecoglou arrives at Tottenham having significantly enhanced his curriculum vitae with what he achieved at Celtic. The former Melbourne Victory and Yokohama F Marinos boss was recruited after completing a domestic treble in Scotland to take his tally to five major trophies in just two seasons.

Brazil – Luiz Felipe Scolari

Chelsea, 2008-09

‘Big Phil’ arrived in London having won a World Cup with his native country and having taken Portugal to the Euro 2004 final. He was in charge for only 25 league games, though, and 36 in all competitions, before being sacked after defeat to Liverpool and a goalless draw with Hull left the Blues fourth in the table, 10 points off the top.

Chile – Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City 2013-16, West Ham 2018-2019

Comfortably the most successful manager on this list, Pellegrini translated his success at Spanish sides Villarreal and Malaga into a league and League Cup double in his first season at City and added another League Cup before giving way to Pep Guardiola’s hugely successful reign. He returned with West Ham for the 2018-19 season, overcoming an opening run of four defeats to secure a top-10 finish.

Israel – Avram Grant

Chelsea 2007-08, Portsmouth 2009-10, West Ham 2010-11

Grant overcame scepticism at his Chelsea appointment – and a lack of the requisite coaching qualifications – to lead them to runners-up finishes in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup, but it was not enough to earn him a second season in charge. He later suffered back-to-back relegations with Portsmouth and West Ham, but took Pompey to the FA Cup final and the Hammers to a League Cup semi-final.

Serbia – Slavisa Jokanovic

Fulham, 2018

Jokanovic never got the chance to manage Watford in the top flight after securing promotion in 2015, leaving the club over the summer after failing to agree a new contract. His opportunity finally came after the Cottagers’ play-off success in 2018, but he managed only one win in 12 games, with 31 goals conceded, before being sacked.

Sweden – Sven-Goran Eriksson

Manchester City, 2007-08

A year after leaving his role with England, Eriksson signed a three-year contract with City. He lasted only one, producing what the club’s then owner Thaksin Shinawatra termed “an avalanche of very poor results which is unacceptable at this level” culminating in a staggering 8-1 loss to Middlesbrough.

Switzerland – Christian Gross

Tottenham, 1997-98

A shock successor to Gerry Francis, despite two league titles and a Swiss Cup with Grasshopper and two promotions before that with FC Wil, Gross lifted a struggling side clear of relegation trouble but lasted only until the early days of the following season before being sacked.

Uruguay – Gus Poyet

Sunderland, 2013-15

The former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder replaced Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light in October 2013 and his first season brought an unlikely late run to survival, a League Cup final, derby victory over Newcastle and a win at Chelsea which was Jose Mourinho’s first-ever home defeat as a Premier League manager. The next campaign brought another relegation battle, though, and Poyet was sacked in August after a heavy defeat to West Ham.

Lifelong Livingston fan Dave Black has been appointed the club’s new chief executive after John Ward moved up to become chairman.

Ward has been chief executive since 2016 and replaces Robert Wilson, who announced his retirement last week.

Black has been the club’s business development manager since 2020 and also head of commercial and media operations but has a long-standing affiliation with the club.

Ward said: “I took on the role of CEO when the club had back-to-back promotions as the board felt we needed to put a formal structure around the business side of things.

“It was always an unpaid, voluntary role for me and my business interests outside the club have meant that I am travelling most weeks and rarely based at the club itself.

“We feel the club needed a CEO who is in the building on a day-to-day basis and who can support the staff to manage the business side of things efficiently. Dave has grown in stature and ability in the time he has been here and I believe he has earned this opportunity.”

Black said: “I’ve been a Livingston fan since that first game back in 1995 and subsequently travelled home and away as a supporter ever since.

“I’ve been a mascot, I’ve been a ball boy, I’ve sold programmes, I’ve worked in the bar, I’ve ran the club shop, I’ve ran the supporters football team, I’ve helped run the supporters bus, I’ve been on the board of the Supporters Trust and, before it became my job, I was already running the club social media accounts.

“Coming into the club as a full-time employee back in 2020 was incredible for me to then have a direct impact on the club I loved and to have now been afforded the chance to directly have an influence at board level on the day-to-day running of things is incredibly exciting and something I’m proud to have achieved.”

He added: “I’ve taken on this role in spite of the legacy issues ongoing behind the scenes, which predate my involvement at the club, and I will review my situation if and when needed.

“For now, I’m just incredibly excited to continue the hard work already being done on a day-to-day basis by the brilliant team of staff we have here and get set for a record breaking sixth consecutive season in the top flight of the Scottish game.”

Manager David Martindale said: “I have worked with John and Dave for a number of years and I’m delighted that both have taken on their respective roles.

“Both are fantastic assets to the club and I’m looking forward to working closely with them for the forthcoming season.

“It’s no secret that next year is going to be difficult and the more assets we can keep at the club the better.”

Alan Archibald has joined the Kilmarnock backroom staff after Paul Sheerin stepped up to become assistant to Derek McInnes.

Former Arbroath manager Sheerin previously looked after the development team as well as coaching the first team and now replaces Tony Docherty, who has taken over as Dundee manager following a long-standing working relationship with McInnes.

Former Partick Thistle manager and assistant Archibald joins from Motherwell, where he had a short spell as the club’s lead development coach, taking their reserve side.

Craig Clark has moved from the under-18s to become technical coach with the first team as well as head of academy coaching.

Former Killie winger Chris Burke is now head coach of the Under-18s.

McInnes, who played with Archibald at Dundee United, said on the club’s website: “Paul has been a key member of my team for a number of years which makes him the natural choice as assistant manager.

“It’s important to freshen the backroom team after a certain period of time, but he will also allow us to keep a valuable level of continuity.

“Alan is someone I also know extremely well, and he’ll add a fresh perspective to the team. His track record of player development aligns with our long-term ambitions here at the club.

“We’re also privileged to have two very talented young coaches in Craig and Chris. It’s essential that their progression is recognised and I’m delighted that they have committed to Kilmarnock for the next stage of their coaching careers.”

Following the departure of Ange Postecoglou to Tottenham, Celtic are now looking for a new manager.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the candidates who may be given consideration by the Parkhead hierarchy.

Brendan Rodgers

The 50-year-old Northern Irishman is out of work after being sacked by Leicester in April. Enjoyed a hugely successful stint of just under three years in charge of Celtic in which he won two consecutive domestic trebles before leaving the club firmly on course to achieve the feat for a third time when he was headhunted by the Foxes in February 2019. The timing of his departure  – when they were closing in on a treble-treble – meant Rodgers left under a cloud in the eyes of a significant section of supporters. The possibility of lingering acrimony may be a stumbling block to his potential return.

Jesse Marsch

As part of the Red Bull group, the 49-year-old American came to prominence when he led Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg – who had Erling Haaland in attack in his first season in charge – to two consecutive league and cup doubles. Renowned for his high-intensity, approach, Marsch earned a crack at the Leeds job in February 2022 following the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa and ensured they stayed in the Premier League, but a poor start to his first full season at Elland Road led to him being sacked in February. Was interviewed about recent vacancies at Southampton and Leicester but remains out of work and is still based in the UK.

Scott Brown

The 37-year-old Fleetwood manager spent 14 trophy-laden years as a player at Celtic, the majority as captain, before his departure in 2021. His name is sure to come into consideration given his long association with the club and the high regard in which he is held, but would be seen as a major gamble given his relative lack of managerial experience. Steered Fleetwood to 58 points and a mid-table finish in League One in his first season in charge, which represented a notable upturn under Brown as they had picked up just 40 points while battling relegation under his predecessor. Also reached the FA Cup fifth round, beating QPR and Sheffield Wednesday along the way.     

David Moyes

Currently in charge of Europa Conference League finalists West Ham, Moyes’ name always seems to be mentioned when Celtic are looking for a new manager given his Glasgow roots. The 60-year-old’s future with the Hammers has been in doubt following a disappointing Premier League campaign, but he said at the weekend that he was “really happy at the moment and settled where I am” when asked about his situation. Has previously managed Everton, Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland. A lack of silverware may count against him. 

Kjetil Knutsen

The 54-year-old has made a name for himself after establishing Bodo Glimt as one of the top teams in Norway since taking charge in 2018. Led them to their first-ever title win in 2020 and followed up the feat a year later. Currently eight points clear at the top of the Eliteserien. Has also overseen some impressive European runs over the past three seasons, most notably in the 2021/22 campaign when Bodo Glimt reached the quarter-finals of the Conference League after defeating Postecoglou’s Celtic 5-1 on aggregate.       

Graham Potter

Currently unemployed after being sacked in April following a chastening spell in charge of Chelsea, Potter – who made his name in an impressive three-year reign at Brighton – would be seen as an eye-catching proposition for many Hoops supporters. Indeed there are similarities between where Potter is now and where Rodgers was when he chose to head north and get his career back on track with Celtic in 2016 after his sacking from Liverpool. The 48-year-old former Swansea boss’ preferred style of football would be deemed attractive to Celtic, who will be keen to hire someone able to get the most out of a squad built in Postecoglou’s mould over the past two years.

Reading will go part-time following their relegation from the Women’s Super League.

The Royals dropped down to the second tier for the first time since 2015 after finishing bottom of the 2022/23 table, amassing just 11 points from their 22 games.

Owner Dai Yongge has been financing the club but they will lose their full-time status in order to operate in a more sustainable financial manner.

“Difficult but necessary financial decisions are being made across the business following the club’s relegation to League One last season and, after discussions with the FA, the decision to operate Reading FC Women on a part-time basis represents the most viable solution at the present time,” chief executive Dayong Pang said.

“We would like to acknowledge all of the hard work and unquestionable dedication to Reading Football Club of Kelly Chambers and her coaching staff, the players and all the staff.

“The club will now be working extremely hard to build a team to proudly represent our town in the WSL Championship in the 2023-24 campaign.

“Our owner, Mr Dai Yongge, has his full focus concentrated on our club’s rebuild. He is fully committed to consolidating our efforts into a sensible and sustainable reset, designed to bring success back to RG2.”

Captain Callum McGregor said goodbye to Ange Postecoglou and hello to Celtic’s next Champions League challenge.

Just three days after the Hoops clinched the domestic treble with a 3-1 Scottish Cup final win over Inverness at Hampden Park, Tottenham appointed the 57-year-old Australian as their new head coach on a four-year deal.

McGregor spoke in glowing terms about Postecoglou on the club’s official website then looked forward to the fruits of his success, a guaranteed place in the group stage of European football’s elite club competition next season.

The Scotland midfielder said: “It has been great to work with the gaffer over the past two seasons and to achieve the success that we have, especially achieving yet another treble at the weekend.

“In fact, to win five out of six domestic trophies is a tremendous achievement and that is testament to the real focus and relentlessness of the manager, the players and our whole backroom team who have all worked so hard.

“I thank all our supporters again for what they have given us this year. The scenes at Hampden and Celtic Park, when we celebrated our success together, will stay with me forever.

“We have delivered something very special to our fans and done it, under the manager’s direction, by playing an exciting and attractive brand of football. As all the players do, I wish Ange great success in his next challenge.

“We move on ourselves to our own challenges too. Our performances this season mean we will take our place deservedly in the Champions League and we can’t wait for it.

“It will be brilliant to have these great nights back at Celtic Park and I am sure our fans are looking forward to experiencing this again, as well as watching us striving to defend all our domestic titles.

“The players will enjoy a well-earned break and when we return we will get right behind the new manager, we will be united and, as ever, will do all we can to bring our fans continued success.”

Ange Postecoglou insists he “will forever” be a Celtic supporter after leaving the Parkhead club for Tottenham.

The London club ended days of speculation by appointing the 57-year-old Australian as their new head coach on a four-year deal.

Postecoglou – who won the domestic treble with the Hoops this season to make it five trophies in two campaigns in charge – replaces Antonio Conte at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

In his parting statement on Celtic’s official website, the former Australia manager thanked the club’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond, chairman Peter Lawwell and chief executive Michael Nicholson as well as the supporters as he reviewed his time at the cinch Premiership club.

He said: “I would like to sincerely thank everyone at the club for everything they have given me.

“In particular, Dermot, Peter and Michael and the Celtic Board have shown me tremendous support in every aspect of my time at Celtic and I will forever be grateful for this.

“They brought me to the club and I have worked so closely and so well with them for the past two years, I will always have a special relationship with them.

“They wanted me to extend my time at Celtic and while I am so respectful and understanding of their position, a new opportunity has been presented to me and it is one which I wanted to explore.

“It was an honour to be asked to be Celtic manager and during my two years I have given everything I have to deliver success to our supporters.

“Culminating in the treble at the weekend, my players and backroom team have been brilliant for me on this journey.

“They have given us all some fantastic moments through their energy and effort, creating real quality, winning football.

“Our supporters have been magnificent to me and I thank them for the way they have embraced me during the past two years.

“My ambition was always to give our fans a team they could be proud of, a team people talked about and I think we have achieved that.

“Celtic is a phenomenal football club and so much more – and I will forever be a supporter of this great institution. I wish everyone connected with Celtic nothing but continued success.”

Nicholson described Postecoglou as “a great football manager and a good man”, who has “served the club with such energy and determination and delivered a phenomenal level of success”.

He said:  “I would like to thank him for all he has given us and I wish Ange and his family the very best for the future in everything they do.

“Of course, we wanted Ange to stay with us at Celtic and while there is real disappointment that we are losing him, he has decided he wants to look at a new challenge, which we respect.

“As treble-winning champions, the club looks ahead with confidence to the future, with many exciting opportunities ahead.”

Lawwell was equally praiseworthy of the former Melbourne Victory and Yokohama F Marinos boss.

He said: “Against any measure, Ange has delivered a fantastic level of success to Celtic and we thank him for his brilliant contribution to the club during the past two years.

“We were delighted to bring Ange to Celtic.

“He is a special manager who has had success wherever he has been and someone who brought to the club attacking, stylish and winning football in the best traditions of Celtic.

“Of course, we are disappointed that Ange has decided to leave the club and we did all we could to keep him with us well into the future, but he wanted to take this new opportunity and we wish Ange well in this and everything else he does.

“Now our focus is very much on ensuring we move forward positively and do all we can to ensure that we maintain our dominant position in Scottish football and also prepare for the exciting European challenges which lie ahead.”

Ange Postecoglou has swapped Celtic for Tottenham as the north London club’s permanent successor to former head coach Antonio Conte.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the most recent managers to move from the Scottish to the English top flight, and how they fared.

Steven Gerrard

The former Liverpool and England captain took over at Rangers in 2018, finishing second behind Celtic in his first two seasons – and also losing the 2020 League Cup final to them – before breaking through to win the 2020-21 Premiership in an unbeaten season to deny Celtic a 10th title in a row.

He was appointed at Aston Villa early the following season, with a reported £4million compensation payment to Rangers, but was unable to improve Villa’s results.

They finished 14th that season and he was sacked after a poor start to 2022-23, with Unai Emery taking over and leading Villa into Europe. Meanwhile, north of the border, Postecoglou had taken over Celtic and re-established their dominance.

Gerrard managed 13 wins in 40 games as Villa boss, a 32.5 per cent win rate.

Paul Heckingbottom

Heckingbottom left Hibernian in November 2019 and, having been out of work for much of the season, became Sheffield United Under-23 coach in July 2020.

He took over as interim manager after Chris Wilder was sacked in March 2021 but won only three of 11 games as the club’s relegation was confirmed.

Having lost out on the permanent job to Slavisa Jokanovic, he took over six months later after the Serbian’s dismissal and has led the Blades back to the top flight for the new season, winning 48 of 83 games in his current reign.

Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers was already an established name in England after spells at Reading and Liverpool, but it was at Celtic where he built his medal collection with back-to-back domestic trebles – adding the League Cup leg of a third before departing for Leicester in February 2019 and leaving Neil Lennon to finish the job.

With the Foxes he won the FA Cup in 2020-21 and reached the Europa League semi-final the following season, with league finishes of ninth, fifth, fifth and eighth as they twice missed out on the Champions League on the final day.

He was sacked in April with the club 19th in the league, with successor Dean Smith unable to save them from relegation. Rodgers won 92 of 204 Leicester games in all competitions, 45.1 per cent.

Alex McLeish

McLeish’s spell with Rangers brought him two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups, including a treble in 2002-03, following a second-placed finish with Motherwell and a promotion with Hibernian.

That earned him the Scotland job but he led them for only 12 games before returning to club management south of the border with Birmingham.

Blues were relegated in his first season in charge but bounced straight back, finished ninth in 2009-10 and won the 2011 League Cup after Obafemi Martins’ late winner against Arsenal.

That same season brought a second relegation, though, and McLeish resigned after 168 games in charge with a 36.9 per cent win rate.

Tottenham have appointed former Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou as their head coach on a four-year deal.

The 57-year-old Australian, who won the domestic treble with Celtic this season, moves south to London to replace Antonio Conte.

Conte was sacked in late March, with Cristian Stellini and then Ryan Mason taking temporary charge.

Postecoglou will officially join Spurs on July 1.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said on the club’s website: “Ange brings a positive mentality and a fast, attacking style of play.

“He has a strong track record of developing players and an understanding of the importance of the link from the academy – everything that is important to our club.

“We are excited to have Ange join us as we prepare for the season ahead.”

Tottenham have ended their long search for a permanent head coach by appointing Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou.

Postecoglou, who won five major trophies in two seasons at Celtic, including this season’s domestic treble, faces a tough task to quickly turn Tottenham’s fortunes around.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the 57-year-old’s in-tray.

Resolve Harry Kane’s future

The most pressing issue awaiting Postecoglou in his first job as a Premier League head coach is the future of Kane. The England captain has one year left on his contract and has been linked with a possible summer move to a host of Europe’s leading clubs, including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Postecoglou will want Kane to stay, but will also want assurances. The 29-year-old is either all in and stays, or opts for a new challenge and generates funds to help Tottenham rebuild their squad. Whatever Kane decides, Postecoglou will need a speedy decision.

Unite the dressing room

None of Tottenham’s near 30-man first-team squad are out of contract this summer, but plenty of departures can be expected. Postecoglou’s predecessor Antonio Conte publicly criticised his players’ team ethic and anyone lacking in that regard will have no place in the former Australia head coach’s squad. He must quickly work out who he can trust to fully commit to his principles and methods and try and move on those he does not. Unity and spirit were the bedrock for Celtic’s success under Postecoglou and he will want to lay the same foundations at Tottenham.

Win over doubters

Postecoglou was not top choice for the majority of Tottenham’s supporters and there will be plenty of scepticism among those who had called for the return of Mauricio Pochettino, while the likes of Arne Slot, Roberto De Zerbi and Luis Enrique were also reported to be on the club’s list of targets. Postecoglou must win over the doubters and reconnect the players with a disgruntled fanbase. He did just that at Celtic where he first took charge in a toxic environment, but can his blueprint for success in the Scottish Premiership transfer to the English top flight?

Director of football key

Tottenham have been without a director of football since the resignation of Fabio Paratici in April and the club will now prioritise that key appointment in readiness for a busy summer ahead. Feyenoord’s general manager Dennis te Kloese has turned down the role and, while filling the vacancy falls under chairman Daniel Levy’s remit, Postecoglou could well be involved in the process and will definitely want to strike an instant rapport with whoever takes on the job. The Australian has a clear philosophy for possession-based, high-energy football and the project will only work if the two parties are aligned.

Top-four challenge

European football has eluded Spurs for the first time since 2009-10 and they can ill-afford to miss out for a second successive season in their bid to retain their status as a ‘Big Six’ club. Postecoglou must overhaul the playing squad, galvanise a dispirited dressing room and bed in his backroom staff – what role, if any, for fans’ favourite Ryan Mason? – all in time to launch a Champions League challenge with the same brand of football that has thrilled Celtic fans for the past two years.

West Ham face Italian side Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final in Prague on Wednesday night.

The Hammers are bidding to win a first major trophy since the FA Cup in 1980.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at their route to the final.

Qualifying round

West Ham’s journey to Prague began on August 18, three Prime Ministers ago, with a home meeting against Danish minnows Viborg.

New Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio scored in a 3-1 first-leg win. Scamacca was on target again, along with Said Benrahma and Tomas Soucek, in the away leg to secure a comprehensive 6-1 aggregate victory.

Group stage

The Hammers were drawn with Romanian side FCSB, Belgium’s Anderlecht and Silkeborg of Denmark in Group B.

They fell behind to FCSB at home in their first match but goals from Bowen, Emerson Palmieri and Antonio earned a 3-1 win and David Moyes’ side went on to breeze into the knockout stages with six wins out of six.

Last 16

The travelling fans were rewarded with a trip to sunny Cyprus and a tie against AEK Larnaca.

West Ham were struggling domestically, having just been knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United and thumped 4-0 at Brighton in the Premier League, but Antonio’s double settled the away leg and a brace from Bowen helped them to a 4-0 win at home, and 6-0 on aggregate, to keep the European adventure going.


Next up were another Belgian outfit, Gent, and for the first time in the competition West Ham failed to register a victory, with Danny Ings on target in a 1-1 away draw.

But despite conceding an early goal, the home leg was comfortable thanks to another Antonio double, Lucas Paqueta’s penalty and a stunning solo goal from captain Declan Rice to wrap up a 4-1 win.


Dutch dark horses AZ Alkmaar would be no pushovers in the last four having already accounted for Lazio and Anderlecht.

West Ham fell behind at the London Stadium to Tijani Reijnders’ first-half goal but Said Benrahma’s penalty and Antonio’s scrambled effort secured a 2-1 win.

In an edgy second leg, Pablo Fornals raced through to score the only goal in stoppage time to inflict AZ’s first European defeat in 26 matches and send the Hammers through.

West Ham face Fiorentina in the final of the Europa Conference League in Prague on Wednesday night.

Here, the PA news agency shines a spotlight on the Italian outfit.


In qualifying for the showpiece in Prague, Fiorentina became the first team to reach all four finals of the major European competitions. They lost in the European Cup final to Real Madrid in 1957 and won the inaugural Cup Winners’ Cup in 1961 by beating Rangers 4-1 on aggregate in the final. Their last appearance in a European final was a defeat by fierce rivals Juventus in the 1990 UEFA Cup final.


Vincenzo Italiano, 45, spent most of his playing career as a midfielder with Verona. As a coach he led Spezia to promotion to Serie A in 2020 and kept them up the following season before moving to Fiorentina, where he guided ‘I Viola’ back into Europe for the first time since 2017.


Fiorentina have enjoyed a fine end to their league campaign, winning eight, drawing four and losing just two matches since March, securing an eighth-placed finish in Serie A. They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, where they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Champions League finalists Inter Milan.


Italiano’s free-flowing side are the top scorers in the Conference League with 36 goals, at an average of just over two-and-a-half per match. Italiano also deploys a high defensive line in a bid to squeeze the opposition and control the tempo of the match while dominating possession.

Key men

Morocco World Cup star Sofyan Amrabat could be playing his final match for the Italians amid reported interest from Barcelona and Manchester United. Fellow midfielder Antonin Barak is one of Serie A’s most creative players but could be an injury doubt for the final.

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