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18.04.2024Europa League

1-1 at West Ham – Werkself battle through to semi-finals

The Werkself are through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League thanks to a second-half comeback. Michael Antonio put West Ham United in front early on the night in the quarter-final second leg but Jeremie Frimpong levelled in the 89th minute at the London Stadium. After the 2-0 win in the first leg, the draw was enough for Bayer 04 to progress.
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Head coach Xabi Alonso again rotated his side on the European stage following the 5-0 victory against SV Werder Bremen that crowned Bayer 04 as German champions for the first time. There were six changes in total, with only Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie, Granit Xhaka and Nathan Tella keeping their places.

West Ham with early goal

Before kick-off, the hosts put on a light and fire show at the London Stadium, and West Ham started the game with similar energy. The Hammers were bold and assertive as they looked to attack straight away, but the Werkself initially stood firm and didn't allow any chances. It was Leverkusen who registered the first attempt on 10 minutes, but Tella's powerful long-distance drive was foiled by WHU goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. It was a different story at the other end three minutes later, when fit-again Jarrod Bowen delivered the ball into the six-yard box, where Michail Antonio got in between Kossounou and Matej Kovar to make it 1-0 on the night and 1-2 on aggregate. The Hammers didn't let up after that goal and the next free shot by Bowen was saved by Kovar with a strong reflex. The Black-and-Reds continued to struggle to find their way into the physical contest.

Gegentor

The atmosphere was getting increasingly heated on the side of the pitch, too, with referee José María Sánchez showing a yellow card to both assistant coaches in the 31st minute. The action on the pitch was disrupted by several fouls and hold-ups. West Ham kept trying threatening crosses, while the Werkself lacked ideas and passing accuracy until the break, which they went into with a one-goal aggregate lead.

Frimpong strikes at the death

Alonso introduced fresh legs in the form of Victor Boniface and Jeremie Frimpong for the second half. The latter immediately provided pressure and found Florian Wirtz with an excellent cross-field ball on the counter, but his first-time finish at the far post missed the target. The visitors were now a considerably greater attacking threat. The lively Frimpong had a go himself from range in the 66th minute. Although the Hammers continued to defend high, there was more room for Bayer 04 than in the first half. The Londoners, for their part, ran out of steam in attack and Leverkusen increasingly gained control of the game as the second half wore on. In the 83rd minute, Frimpong ran through on goal but blasted over the bar. Six minutes later, however, he had more luck: the Dutchman went for goal again and his shot took a decisive deflection off a West Ham defender on its way in. The equaliser confirmed the Werkself's progression to the Europa League semi-finals, where they'll face Roma, and extended their unbeaten record in all competitions this season to 44 games - a new record in Europe's top five leagues!

Frimpong Flanke

looking ahead: two top-four hopefuls

It gets no less exciting in the Bundesliga as the Werkself travel to Borussia Dortmund this Sunday, 21 April. Kick-off at Signal Iduna Park is at 17:30 CEST. A week later, on Saturday 27 April, VfB Stuttgart are the visitors to the BayArena at 18:30 CEST.

Match stats:

West Ham United: Fabianski – Coufal (Johnson 84'), Zouma, Aguerd (Ogbonna 45'+2 ), Cresswell – Ward-Prowse, Alvarez (Cornet 84'), Soucek – Bowen, Antonio, Kudus

Bayer 04: Kovar – Stanisic, Kossounou (Tapsoba 29'), Tah, Hincapie – Xhaka, Palacios – Tella (Frimpong 46'), Wirtz (Andrich 87'), Grimaldo (Adli 68') – Schick (Boniface 46')

Goals: 0-1 Antonio (13'), 1-1 Frimpong (89')

Yellow cards:  Antonio, Bowen, Zouma, Coufal, Soucek / Kossounou, Tah, Palacios, Kovar

Referee: José María Sánchez (Spain)

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