West Ham motivated by last season’s semi-finals defeat

West Ham are using the disappointment of missing out on last season’s Europa League final as “motivation” for this year’s Europa Conference League semi-finals, says midfielder Tomas Soucek.

The Hammers visit AZ Alkmaar on Thursday with a 2-1 first-leg lead.

Last season they lost 3-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals.

“Now it’s even more motivation for us that we are one game from the final and we are 100% on it,” said Soucek.

“We were very disappointed after the semi-final last year.”

West Ham, who have not won a major trophy since the FA Cup in 1980, are aiming to reach their first European final since being runners-up in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976.

West Ham motivated by last season's semi-finals defeat
Tomas Soucek (centre) scored his first goal since August in West Ham’s 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace last month

“In the first leg we did better than last year – that’s a massive improvement,” said Soucek.

“Now we’re all motivated to get to the final, especially as West Ham haven’t won a trophy for a few years and we want to give this chance to the fans.”

Manager David Moyes has led West Ham to top-10 finishes in the Premier League in the past two seasons, but they have struggled for much of the current campaign. They are 15th in the table with two games left, all but mathematically safe from relegation.

“We are not happy with the end result in the league – we want to be higher,” said Soucek.

“But if we win this trophy it will be a very successful season. It would also give us European football again next season.”

Striker Michail Antonio and right-back Vladimir Coufal returned to the squad against Alkmaar.

Antonio, who scored the winner in the first leg, sat out Sunday’s Premier League defeat at Brentford with a calf problem, while Coufal missed three games with a hamstring injury.

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