West Ham’s gamers additionally tried to affix the fray, with Flynn Downes, Michail Antonio and Mentioned Benrahma amongst those that tried to make their approach into the stands.
Uefa will look ahead to the total studies from the night time earlier than deciding on what disciplinary motion to take in opposition to AZ and their supporters. It’s understood that they may additionally appoint an inspector to analyze the scenario extra deeply.
Eyewitness: Uefa’s seating preparations are recipe for fan hassle
By Sam Dean
The moment response of most of the West Ham United gamers and coaches, as soon as the ultimate whistle had sounded on a well-known European victory, was to run throughout the pitch and have a good time with their supporters within the far nook of AZ Alkmaar’s AFAS Stadion.
Barely just a few seconds had handed, although, earlier than they realised that one thing was going horribly unsuitable behind them, within the different course. The whistles, shouts and screams from the stands alerted them to the unfolding scenario behind the dugouts, the place membership officers, sponsors and – crucially, from the attitude of the West Ham gamers – the chums and households of the crew have been seated.
Inside the floor, it didn’t take lengthy to grasp what was going down. A horde of black-shirted AZ followers, a few of them in balaclavas and most of them with their hoods pulled up, had charged in the direction of a small part of residence supporters close to the midway line. That they had finished so after tearing down a metallic gate and surging by means of a crowd of stewards.
With the blood nonetheless pumping by means of their veins after 90 minutes of hard-fought motion in a European semi-final, most of the West Ham gamers reacted instinctively. Battling their approach by means of the our bodies, they tried to launch themselves into the fray and defend their family members.
Flynn Downes, West Ham’s younger midfielder, briefly succeeded in doing so. After leaping over a pitchside barrier, the 24-year-old may very well be seen swinging his fists in the direction of a bunch of black-shirted assailants, earlier than he was dragged away.
Mentioned Benrahma and Michail Antonio additionally charged in, whereas others – together with Lucas Paqueta and Aaron Cresswell – have been forcibly held again by stewards and officers.
David Moyes, the West Ham supervisor, had family and friends in that part of the stadium. The membership’s safety officers tried to drag him away, in the direction of the dressing room, however he strongly resisted. “I had to verify my gamers weren’t concerned,” he stated afterwards.
Amid the chaos, there was concern among the many West Ham supporters for the house followers who had been caught between the 2 teams. One travelling fan advised Telegraph Sport that younger Dutch households had been compelled to flee throughout the seats, their youngsters terrified.
On the time, amid the flurry of our bodies, it was arduous to see what would cease the AZ ultras from advancing additional. It later emerged that the West Ham supporters had proved as resilient within the stands as their gamers had been on the pitch, after they had secured the clear sheet that assured progress to subsequent month’s Europa Convention League last.
Extraordinary footage, filmed on cellphones from throughout the floor, reveals how West Ham followers had stood atop stairways, holding off the AZ supporters with a collection of punches and kicks as they protected the households in that space.
Maybe daunted by the dimensions of the problem going through them, the assailants quickly turned their backs. The stewards and officers waded in, and the difficulty was cleared. West Ham’s gamers then returned to the unique plan by sprinting throughout the pitch to the away supporters within the far nook, the place they celebrated joyously. These celebrations continued, in some type, within the dressing room a couple of minutes later.
Uefa will now evaluate the studies of the night time earlier than deciding on what motion to take. It’s understood that they may appoint an inspector to analyze the scenario extra deeply and study whether or not this was something greater than crowd misbehaviour.
However Uefa’s officers would do effectively to look in the direction of themselves, too, as there had additionally been points within the stands within the first leg on the London Stadium final week. The 2 incidents have been clearly associated.
The issue, within the eyes of some observers of those two matches, is that Uefa allocates to travelling supporters a bit of the house stands behind the dugouts. That is the place company friends are seated, together with sponsors and households of the gamers. This isn’t what normally occurs in home video games, when away followers are stored in away sections.
Final week, in London, the chums and households of the AZ gamers and coaches needed to be moved at half-time after verbal altercations with close by West Ham followers following the Dutch aspect’s opening aim. Right here, it was the identical downside however on a a lot bigger, and rather more violent scale.
The fallout will proceed over the subsequent few days, and it stays to be seen what disciplinary motion will comply with for AZ and their supporters. Fortunately for West Ham, it’s not their downside. The gamers flew residence on Thursday night time, and a lot of the followers will likely be following them on Friday. A few of these supporters will likely be shaken, however many may also be happy with how they stood up for one another on an evening that may go down as one of many best, and most dramatic, in West Ham’s European historical past.