Michail Antonio was bullish on West Ham’s chances of winning the Europa League after the Premier League side progressed past Sevilla to the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Trailing the six-time Europa League winners 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg, Andriy Yarmolenko won the tie in the 22nd minute of extra time following Antonio’s assist for Tomas Soucek in the first half of normal time.
This will be West Ham’s first European quarter-finals appearance since the 1980-81 Cup Winners’ Cup, where they lost to Dinamo Tbilisi.
Nevertheless, Antonio feels the Hammers can go on and take the silverware.
“We fear nobody. We play in the Premier League and it doesn’t matter who we play, we try to get the three points,” he told BT Sport post-match. “We’re in this to win it. We’re not just here to take part. Why can’t we win it?”
Antonio became only the second player to notch 10 goals and assists for a Premier League club in all competitions this season, after Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. He is the first to do so for West Ham since Dimitri Payet in 2015-16.
QUARTER-FINALS OF THE EUROPA LEAGUE HERE WE COME!!!! #UEL | #WHUSEV pic.twitter.com/iCa055uABp
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 17, 2022
He was taken off injured against Aston Villa but managed to play 120 minutes on Thursday, and the 31-year-old believes the home crowd at London Stadium spurred him on.
“I’ve been here seven years and the only atmosphere close to this was the last day at the Boleyn Ground. The fans roared all the way through, backing us. They were the 12th man,” he said.
“I’ll give the win to them, they were the ones who did it for us.
“This season is like a dream come true. This is the first time in Europe for me. I’ve become West Ham’s Premier League top scorer. We’re just here enjoying our football.”
In the battle between sixth in the Premier League and second in LaLiga, West Ham were the more aggressive, but had to be patient to find the breakthrough.
That the winner came from Yarmolenko, amid the backdrop of armed conflict in his native Ukraine, provided Antonio some added joy.
“We dominated. We always believed in ourselves. From the first half we were on them, creating chances. [We thought] keep doing what we’re doing and we’d get the win,” he added.
“Andriy Yarmolenko is such a lovely guy. I can’t imagine what he’s going through. He’s got a finishing touch now. Hopefully he can keep doing it.”
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