Bayer Leverkusen’s late goals crush West Ham’s Europa League dreams

Bayer Leverkusen's late goals crush West Ham's Europa League dreams | UEFA Europa League

West Ham United faces an uphill battle in the Europa League after a 2-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. The Hammers stood strong for 83 minutes until Jonas Hofmann, a substitute, broke through their defense, beating goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

With just a one-goal deficit, David Moyes’ team might have harbored hope for the second leg at the London Stadium, especially against an undefeated opponent. However, their aspirations of reaching a third consecutive European semi-final were crushed when another substitute, Victor Boniface, headed home Hofmann’s cross in stoppage time.

Adding to West Ham’s challenges, Lucas Paqueta received a yellow card, rendering him ineligible for the second leg. The East London club was already missing their top scorer, Jarrod Bowen, due to injury, and Edson Alvarez due to suspension.

The game could have taken a different turn early on when Patrik Schick redirected Josip Stanisic’s shot towards goal in the seventh minute, but it went straight to Fabianski. Leverkusen got a taste of West Ham’s counter-attacking prowess when Michail Antonio outpaced Jonathan Tah on the left wing, setting up Mohammed Kudus for the best chance of the first half.

However, Kudus’ quick shot was confidently dealt with by Matej Kovar. West Ham struggled to break out of their own penalty area, as Fabianski had to fend off Jeremie Frimpong’s curling effort and Exequiel Palacios’s powerful strike.

Paqueta’s aggressive challenge on Amine Adli earned him a yellow card, narrowly avoiding a red, and triggered a brief altercation on the sidelines. Fabianski anticipated a busy night and was not disappointed, making crucial saves to thwart Alejandro Grimaldo, Schick, and Edmond Tapsoba.

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