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Bayer Leverkusen shatter West Ham’s resistance in Europa League

West Ham were stunned by two late goals in Leverkusen
West Ham were stunned by two late goals in Leverkusen - Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

After 83 minutes of resistance, West Ham were finally broken down by Germany’s “Invincibles”, who have still not lost a game this season and took a huge stride towards the Europa League semi-finals after late strikes from Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface.

David Moyes’ players put their bodies on the line to keep out Bayer Leverkusen for so long, with Lukasz Fabianski pulling off a series of saves to deny the Bundesliga champions-in-waiting until their two match-winners came off the bench.

It was not until a corner was not cleared and Hofmann struck through a crowd of players that the crowd at BayArena could start celebrating. They have swept aside all in front of them this season, including Bayern Munich in a 3-0 win here, but it was a battle to get past West Ham.

Xabi Alonso punched the air in relief at breaking the deadlock, then celebrated the second in stoppage time when Boniface glanced in a header from Hofmann’s cross. It is no wonder the Leverkusen coach is so highly rated, with his decisions changing the course of this tie so decisively.

West Ham will have to turn the quarter-final around without Lucas Paqueta, who picked up a yellow card. They will have to find some way to get closer to German team’s goal. Here, the hosts’ 33 shots compared to one from West Ham told a story. Alonso’s team have gone 42 matches without defeat and they never looked like losing here.

In a fiery atmosphere at BayArena, there was needle in the game sparked by Paqueta. The Brazilian’s suspension for next week was confirmed with his yellow card for a wild challenge on Amine Adli, leading to a mass confrontation.

The dust had barely settled on that flashpoint before he trod on Florian Wirtz’s foot with his next tackle, risking a red card especially given that Paqueta was still in the referee’s ear in the tunnel at half-time.

Aside from those clashes, the Bundesliga leaders fired shots at Fabianski from all angles. The Poland goalkeeper, 39 next week, was stretched in the first half firstly through Adli’s curler towards the top corner. Long shots came in from Alejandro Grimaldo and Edmond Tapsoba, while Patrik Schick got behind West Ham’s defence but had his effort turned away.

West Ham’s threat came through Michail Antonio breaking forward and using his strength, although opportunities were wasted when the visitors were in promising positions in the first half.  Schick got closer in the second half, heading Grimaldo’s cross towards the top corner and seeing Fabianski claw away.

Hofmann broke the deadlock after Kurt Zouma had bravely blocked Boniface’s shot but it fell to the Leverkusen midfielder. Hofmann then set up the second goal, with Boniface squeezing between Zouma and Aaron Cresswell to head home.


Bayer Leverkusen beat West Ham, as it happened


10:21 PM BST

David Moyes’s reaction

I thought the boys did a really good job. Leverkusen have got a great record of scoring late at home, and we were aware of that. We played against a Champions League side, and they showed that tonight. We’re not quite at that level. But we’re still in the tie and it gives us half a chance in the second leg.

We wanted to play higher up the pitch [but it wasn’t possible]. Ultimately we got done by two corner kicks, and the second goal was really poor from our point of view.

It’ll take some performance to get through, because they’re a really, really top team. Let’s try and get one goal, and then maybe we’ll get two. We have to recognise the quality of the team we’re playing against.


10:13 PM BST

West Ham reaction: Lukasz Fabianski

We’re very disappointed because we worked really hard for 80 minutes, then we gave away two goals from set-pieces. Most of the time that is our strength. At the same time you have to give credit to the opposition because they were pushing for the whole game; they created a decent amount of chances. In the end they deserved to win the game.

The most disappointing thing is the second goal. If we’d kept it at 1-0 it would give us more confidence going into the second leg. We won’t give up – we have to believe. We have a very good record at home in Europe.

I wouldn’t say we ran out of energy. The second goal was a bit too easy. It felt like the striker had too much space so that’s more disappointing.


10:08 PM BST

Leverkusen’s Granit Xhaka reacts

We knew West Ham would play very deep, but we showed we have the quality to beat these teams. The second goal will help us a lot for the second leg. I know how difficult it can be to play away to West Ham so we’ll have to be focussed from the beginning – and try to score as well. We’re very pleased to get this result in the first leg against a very, very good team.


10:01 PM BST

Liverpool 0 Atalanta 3

It was an even worse night for Liverpool, who were thrashed 3-0 at home by Atalanta. You can read all about it here.


09:51 PM BST

Full time: Leverkusen 2 West Ham 0

Leverkusen, the specialists in late goals, have done it again. Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface, two of their substitutes, both scored in the last eight minutes to give Leverkusen a big advantage going into the second leg.

West Ham defended admirably for so long, restricting Leverkusen to half chances and longshots, but it all fell apart at the death. The biggest frustration for David Moyes will be that both goals came from set pieces, even if the second was a quite outstanding header from Boniface.

Victor Boniface celebrates his brilliant goal against West Ham
Victor Boniface celebrates his brilliant goal against West Ham - Lars Baron/Getty Images Europe

09:49 PM BST

Goal!

90+1 min: Leverkusen 2 West Ham 0 (Boniface) That’s a killer blow. Victor Boniface, who has grabbed this game by the scruff since coming on, has made it 2-0. A corner was taken short to Hofmann, who curled a superb cross towards the far post. Boniface ran away from goal to meet the ball, then strained his neck muscles to power a downward header past Fabianski.

That is a fantastic header - the power, the placement, the timing, the lot.


09:47 PM BST

88 min: Leverkusen 1 West Ham 0

Chances for Leverkusen! That was so close to what would have been a devastating second goal. A free-kick from the left pinballed around the West Ham area before Aguerd blocked a shot. Soucek then blocked two shots from Tah, the second on the line, and finally Tah volleyed over the bar.


09:44 PM BST

87 min: Leverkusen 1 West Ham 0

West Ham substitutions Nayaf Aguerd and Ben Johnson replace Konstantinos Mavropanos and Mohammad Kudus.


09:42 PM BST

Goal!

83 min: Leverkusen 1 West Ham 0 (Hofmann) After all that superb defending in open play, West Ham have conceded from a corner. Boniface’s close-range shot was brilliantly blocked by Zouma, with the ball looping back towards Hofmann near the edge of the area. He hooked an instant left-foot volley that bounced through a crowded six-yard box and beat the unsighted Fabianski.


09:38 PM BST

80 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Wirtz shoots straight at Fabianski from 25 yards, another sign of Leverkusen’s frustration.


09:36 PM BST

78 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Good sweeper-keeping from Fabianski, who runs to the edge of his area to beat Hofmann to a through pass from Boniface.


09:35 PM BST

78 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Shots at goal: Leverkusen 23 West Ham 1. Not that David Moyes will or should care - this has been an exemplary defensive performance.


09:33 PM BST

76 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen substitutions Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface replace Patrik Schick and Amine Adli. Boniface is a handful up front.


09:31 PM BST

73 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Xhaka whistles a long-range shot just wide, though again Fabianski had it covered. It feels like Leverkusen are stirring for their usual late onslaught.


09:28 PM BST

70 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Fine save by Fabianski! Grimaldo gets a lucky bounce off Coufal on the byline and clips a fast cross to the near post, where Schick flicks a superb header towards goal from about six yards. Fabianski reacts brilliantly to leap and tip it over the bar.


09:26 PM BST

69 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Antonio buys West Ham a bit of time by drawing a foul from Tapsoba. He’s worked so hard up front with very little support.


09:24 PM BST

67 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen substitutions Nathan Tella and Piero Hincapie replace Jeremie Frimpong and Josip Stanisic.


09:23 PM BST

66 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Coufal goes down after being smacked on the side of the head by Grimaldo’s cross. There’s a break in play while he receives treatment, though he looks fine.

Xabi Alonso gives instructions to his team
Xabi Alonso gives instructions to his team - Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

09:22 PM BST

65 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Frimpong, at a very tight angle to the right, drives an impatient cross-shot that is comfortably saved by Fabianski.


09:22 PM BST

64 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Ward-Prowse’s free-kick is headed away well by Tah and Leverkusen break. Eventually Frimpong’s dangerous low cross is cut out at the near post. West Ham’s defenders (and the two sitting midfielders) have made at least half a dozen vital interceptions tonight.


09:19 PM BST

62 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

This is one of West Ham’s most comfortable spells in the game. There’s still a long way to go, and Leverkusen are very good at scoring late goals, but so far David Moye will be thrilled.


09:15 PM BST

57 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Wirtz shoots straight at Fabianski from the right side of the area. It wouldn’t have counted as he was fractionally offside. But Wirtz has been Leverkusen’s brightest attacker, no question.


09:14 PM BST

57 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Emerson’s studs roll over the ball and onto the shin of Adli. He’s booked and, like Lucas Paqueta, will miss the second leg.


09:12 PM BST

54 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Wirtz, given a rare bit of space in the West Ham area, takes an extra touch and is crowded out.


09:11 PM BST

53 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

West Ham are a bit light on the subs bench, though they do have attacking options in Danny Ings and Maxwel Cornet. Their main focus is at the other end, and David Moyes is unlikely to change anything in defence unless there is an injury.

Granit Xhaka and Jonathan Tah discuss how to break West Ham down
Granit Xhaka and Jonathan Tah discuss how to break West Ham down - Christof Koepsel/Getty Images Europe

09:08 PM BST

51 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Frimpong sweeps a dangerous low ball across the West Ham area, but there’s nobody in the middle and Coufal has time to clear. It’s all Leverkusen.


09:06 PM BST

49 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen have picked up where they left off at half time - but so have West Ham, who continue to defend with admirable discipline.


09:02 PM BST

46 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

The second half is under way. Leverkusen actually had 18 shots to West Ham’s one in that first half, yet West Ham’s one was probably the best chance.


08:48 PM BST

Half time: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

David Moyes’ trusty low block has frustrated Leverkusen, who have had almost 80 per cent of the possession without creating any really clear chances. The best opportunity probably fell to West Ham, when Mohammad Kudus shot too close to the keeper after an exhilarating run from Michail Antonio.


08:46 PM BST

45 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

The yellow card to Paqueta aside, this has been an excellent first half for West Ham. They’ve defended with discipline and calm determination, restricting Leverkusen to openings and half-chances.

There will be one minute of added time.

Jonathan Tah is challenged by Vladimir Coufal
Jonathan Tah is challenged by Vladimir Coufal - Martin Meissner/AP

08:43 PM BST

43 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen take a quick corner and work the ball infield to Tapsoba, whose mishit shot from 17 yards deflects behind for another corner. West Ham were caught cold and it was a decent chance for Tapsoba.

Grimaldo blooters the second corner straight out of play.


08:41 PM BST

40 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Ward-Prowse’s corner is punched away. At the other end, Xhaka’s cross hits the thigh of the unsighted Emerson and loops just wide of the far post. Fabianski had it covered in the end but for a split-second he was scrambling nervously across goal.


08:39 PM BST

38 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Kudus’s superb cross towards Emerson is headed behind by Stanisic. West Ham want a penalty for a pull by Tah on Antonio; it’s checked but the original decision is upheld.

Ward-Prowse goes across to take the corner...


08:37 PM BST

37 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Antonio does outstandingly well to control an awkward ball forward, beat two players in the inside-right channel and drive a cross towards Paqueta that is cut out. He looks sharp tonight.


08:35 PM BST

35 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

The centre-half Tapsoba has a pop from distance, and Fabianski sprawls to his right to make a fairly comfortable save. He’s been very assured so far.


08:34 PM BST

33 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen have started to pin West Ham back again. Adli’s dangerous cross from the left is well cleared by Zouma on the six-yard line.


08:31 PM BST

30 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Lovely save by Fabianski! Schick controls Xhaka’s pass on the half turn on the edge of the area, touching it into the space so he can hit a left-foot shot across goal without breaking stride. Fabianski gets down superbly to his left to touch it round the post. It might have been going wide anyway, but Fabianski didn’t know that.

Patrick Schick is denied by Lukasz Fabianski
Patrick Schick is denied by Lukasz Fabianski - Ina Fassbender/AFP

08:28 PM BST

28 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

West Ham have had a decent spell since Paqueta’s booking, enjoying close to an even share of possession. It’s an intriguing game, and for once that’s not a euphemism.


08:26 PM BST

26 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Paqueta is now being booed every time he touches the ball. I’ll level with you, I didn’t envisage that at kick-off.


08:24 PM BST

24 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Now Paqueta stands on Wirtz’s toe and is penalised. He needs to be really careful here; one more foul and he will probably be off. The kick at Adli might have brought a straight red card in the first place.


08:22 PM BST

21 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Paqueta is booked for a naughty and needless hack at Adli, which leads to a shoving match on the touchline involving most of the 22 players. That yellow card means Paqueta will miss the second leg.


08:20 PM BST

20 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Good save from Fabianski! Grimaldo moves forward and hits a wobbling, dipping shot from 25 yards that is saved one-handed by Fabianski, diving to his left. He did well not just to save it but also to push it away from the onrushing forwards.


08:19 PM BST

18 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

The referee warns Fabianski for wasting time at a goalkick, then Schick heads a nothing cross well wide.

West Ham are doing okay, despite the lack of possession.


08:16 PM BST

15 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Leverkusen are passing the ball with such relaxed confidence. The game is taking place almost exclusively in West Ham’s third, never mind their half. But they’ve done this a hundred times before and know how to cope without the oxygen of possession.

Vladimir Coufal is challenged by a flying Alex Grimaldo
Vladimir Coufal is challenged by a flying Alex Grimaldo - Rob Newell/CameraSport

08:12 PM BST

12 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Adli drags a shot well wide from the left side of the area. West Ham are defending very deep.


08:11 PM BST

9 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Chance for West Ham! They break the Leverkusen press for the first time and almost take the lead. Antonio roars past Tah on the halfway line, charges all the way to the edge of the area and squares the ball selflessly to Kudus. His first-time shot is too close to Kovar. Maybe Antonio could have gone himself but it was a marvellous run.

At the other end, Adli’s extravagant curler from the edge of the area is pushed away by the flying Fabianski. A decent but ultimately comfortable save.

Michail Antonio surges away from Jonathan Tah
Michail Antonio surges away from Jonathan Tah - CHRISTOPHER NEUNDORF/Shutterstock

08:07 PM BST

7 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

Fabianski makes his first save, a comfortable one after Schick redirected Stanisic’s errant long-range shot with a clever flick.

West Ham have hardly had a kick in the first few minutes, though they’ll be comfortable enough with that.


08:03 PM BST

3 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

After a long spell of Leverkusen possession, Wirtz is fouled down the right by Ward-Prowse. He takes the free-kick himself, curling a dangerous ball to the far post that is headed away bravely by Coufal, a split-second before he is accidentally nutted in the back of the head by Adli.


08:00 PM BST

1 min: Leverkusen 0 West Ham 0

West Ham kick off from right to left as we watch.


07:57 PM BST

Here come the players

Let’s have a reminder of the teams.

Bayer Leverkusen (3-4-2-1) Kovar, Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba; Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Adli, Wirtz; Schick.
Subs: Hradecky, Hincapie, Kossounou, Hofmann, Andrich, Iglesias, Arthur, Tella, Boniface, Puerta, Lomb.

West Ham (5-2-2-1) Fabianski; Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma, Cresswell, Emerson; Soucek, Ward-Prowse; Kudus, Lucas Paqueta; Antonio.
Subs: Johnson, Cornet, Ings, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Earthy, Casey, Mubama, Anang, Knightbridge, Orford.

Referee Artur Soraes Dias (Portugal)

West Ham line up ahead of the game in Leverkusen
West Ham line up ahead of the game in Leverkusen - Getty Images Europe/Christof Koepsel

07:49 PM BST

Three players on a yellow card

Florian Wirtz, Lucas Paqueta and Emerson will miss the second leg if they are booked tonight. That’s not insignificant, given the brilliance of Wirtz and Paqueta in particular.

Floran Wirtz is Germany's outstanding young player
Floran Wirtz is Germany's outstanding young player - Boris Streubel/Getty Images Europe

07:42 PM BST

The pre-match thoughts of David Moyes

We’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a difficult game but one we’ll try to enjoy.

[On the selection of Aaron Cresswell] We want to be flexible tactically. They’re extremely adaptable so we want to be able to move with them.

[On the absence of Alvarez and Bowen] That’s why you have a squad of players – you don’t play many quarter-finals in your career so it’s a big opportunity.

We’re away from home in the first of two legs, so we don’t need to be running all over the place to win the game in the opening part. I want us to understand how they play - they are very flexible and play in multiple positions, so there’ll be periods when we don’t have the ball.

When you get to April and you’re still in Europe, it’s a pleasure.


07:31 PM BST

West Ham’s key man


07:16 PM BST

Premier League signings of the season

Tomos Ivers has ranked the top ten signings of the season, and one of West Ham’s is at number four. Now now, be nice.

Read more...


07:03 PM BST

Leverkusen team news

Xabi Alonso has made seven changes to the team that beat Union Berlin last Saturday. The survivors are Jonathan Tah, the electric left wing-back Alex Grimaldo, Granit Xhaka and Florian Wirtz. Alonso has rotated quite a lot this season, and this is an extremely strong Leverkusen side.


07:03 PM BST

West Ham team news: Cresswell and Antonio start

David Moyes switches to a back five, with Aaron Cresswell coming in as the left-sided centre-back. He effectively replaces the suspended Edson Alvarez, while Michail Antonio also starts in place of the injured Jarrod Bowen.


07:02 PM BST

Good evening

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live, minute-by-minute of the Europa League quarter-final first leg between Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham. This is West Ham’s third European quarter-final in as many years, something they have never achieved before. Their reward is the toughest test they have had in that time, and possibly in any European fixture since Dinamo Tbilisi famously took them apart in 1981.

Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen are runaway leaders of the Bundesliga and should become champions of Germany for the first time this weekend. They are also unbeaten this season – not just in the league, but in all competitions: P41 W36 D5 L0. No wonder Alonso is Europe’s most wanted manager.

Leverkusen’s invincibility is even more impressive because they have had their head over the precipice a few times. They have scored a number of equalisers and winners in added time. In the last round against Qarabag, they did both - Patrik Schick scored in the 93rd and 98th minutes to turn defeat into euphoric victory.

Even so, West Ham have reason to be quietly confident. Styles makes fights, and their counter-attacking should trouble Leverkusen at times – both tonight and in the second leg at the London Stadium. But they will sorely miss Jarrod Bowen, who is out of tonight’s game with a twisted knee and probably won’t be fit for the second leg.

“We can’t give any dates of when he might be back, unfortunately,” said the West Ham manager David Moyes. “He’s an England international and we know how important he is to our team, so he’ll be a miss for sure. But we have good players who can come in, so we’ll stay positive.

“I see this tie as a great opportunity. We’ve had a good run in Europe and played a lot of good teams. “We know Leverkusen are a very good team, but we believe in our abilities.”

Kick off is at 8pm and we’ll have team news shortly.

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