Moyes eyes European escapism from pressure of relegation fight
DAVID MOYES is desperate to get the party started in Ayia Napa tonight, as West Ham target the tonic of the Europa Conference League as an escape from their Premier League struggles.
Moyes yesterday said he wants to give the club’s supporters something to cheer as they kickstart the knockout stages in
Larnaca, a short drive from Cypriot tourist hotspot Ayia Napa. This last-16 first leg tie represents an opportunity for West Ham to ease the pressure on the manager. ‘I’d love to win the competition,’ Moyes said. ‘I’d love to get to the final. I’d love to keep progressing West Ham in Europe. We’ve got every chance. On our day, we’re a match for any side.’ The Hammers are still reeling from their awful 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Brighton on Saturday. ‘It was always going to be a tough game,’ said Moyes. ‘It proved to be the case. But you have got to move on and that’s what football does. You always get another opportunity. ‘We have a great opportunity to try to go a long way here and we have got two legs to get to a quarter-final of a European competition. ‘That’s the motivation.’ West Ham reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, where they lost to eventual winners Eintract Frankfurt after Aaron Cresswell was sent off in the away leg. The full back also spoke yesterday, saying: ‘It’s not just the gaffer that’s under pressure. It’s the players. We’re there to perform.’ Meanwhile, a 38-year-old West Ham fan is in a critical condition in Nicosia after falling out of a moving minibus containing six of the club’s supporters. Reports in Cyprus said he fell out of a window on to the road and sustained head injuries, while local police also claimed that he was in possession of 1.5 grams of cocaine.
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Areola; Johnson, Kehrer, Aguerd, Cresswell; Downes, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Ings.
AEK Larnaca v West Ham, 5.45pm. on BT Sport 3.