• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Europa League: Leverkusen edge out West Ham to reach semi-final

Europa League

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen secured a spot in the Uefa Europa League semi-finals after defeating West Ham 3-1 on aggregate score, extending their undefeated streak to 44 matches across all competitions this season.

In the second leg of their quarter-final clash, the German side managed a 1-1 draw at West Ham, sealing their progression with a 3-1 aggregate scoreline. Michail Antonio gave West Ham the lead in the 13th minute, but Jeremie Frimpong levelled the score in the 89th minute for Xabi Alonso’s team.

Leverkusen will now face Roma in the semi-finals, with a chance to advance to the final.

Reflecting on the match, Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka commented on the challenging atmosphere created by the English crowd:

“I think we felt it in the first half, for me, it was a typical English crowd. They were pushing West Ham unbelievably. We were lucky in the first half if we’re honest.”

However, he expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance in the second half, noting their improved control of the game.

Having recently clinched their first Bundesliga title, Leverkusen remains in contention for a treble this season, as they are set to face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

West Ham manager David Moyes praised his team for their dogged play, noting that Leverkusen were a stronger team.

“It was a brilliant team performance, I think over both games. We played against a really good team, tonight we had the chance to be two or 3-0 up and missed a few important opportunities, but I couldn’t fault the players.

“If we were going to go out of Europe, I wanted to go out playing like that. It was a terrific performance against a very good side.

“Tactically we did a brilliant job in the first game, went to Leverkusen and got to 83 minutes without conceding. We may have run out of fresh legs in a couple of games, but I’ve been quite limited with what changes I could make.

“Tonight, the biggest thing is we just didn’t get the second goal in the first half. We ran out of energy in the second, but it wasn’t for the want of trying.”

Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso in his post-match comment said his side were lucky not to concede the second goal.

“It was a game of two different halves. We knew West Ham would come with a high tempo and press us high. We could not deal with it, we were not comfortable and had problems. We were soft in duels, lost some soft balls and it wasn’t easy.

“After conceding the first goal we were lucky not to concede another – that was probably the best part of the first half. The players were well aware that our intensity, the physicality in duels and stability on the ball was not good enough.

“We changed a little bit, tried to show more character and show how we can play.”