Matthew Marshall, London Stadium – Eintracht Frankfurt produced a professional performance to beat West Ham 2-1 in the Europa League semi-final first leg at London Stadium. The Eagles struck inside the opening 60 seconds through Ansgar Knauff, with the Irons equalising through Michail Antonio midway through the first half.
Eintracht silenced the home crowd six minutes into the second half when Daichi Kamada finished off a fine team move. West Ham huffed and puffed, Jarrod Bowen going closest to finding an equaliser in added time when his spectacular overhead kick hit the post.
The victory puts Oliver Glasner’s side into prime position to reach the final, but the abolition of the away goal rule and the threat posed by Bowen means the tie is in the balance ahead of the second leg in Germany.
Eintracht Frankfurt dominant in the first half
Eintracht Frankfurt couldn’t have asked for a better start at the London Stadium, taking the lead in the opening minute. Rafael Borré was afforded too much time and space, his cross met by Ansgar Knauff who headed past Alphonse Areola.
West Ham blew a glorious chance to equalise in the 14th minute. Tomas Soucek released Jarrod Bowen who strolled through a huge hole in Eintracht’s defence, Kevin Trapp getting a vital touch that deflected his shot off the post.
The Iron’s kept searching for an equaliser and were rewarded in the 21st minute. Manuel Lanzini’s free-kick was headed back into the danger area by Kurt Zouma, Antonio at full stretch to bundle the ball over the line.
Eintracht were content to wait for counter attacking opportunities and went close to reclaiming the lead in the 39th minute. Borré sent Knauff through on goal, he turned to create space with his shot sailing narrowly wide.
Daichi Kamada scores his 11th European goal for Eintracht Frankfurt
West Ham fashioned the first chance in the second half with Soucek diverting Antonio’s cross wide. The enthusiasm shown by the home crowd was obliterated in the 54th minute when Eintracht regained the lead.
It was a brilliant team move started by Filip Kostic, Djibril Sow and Jesper Lindstrøm exchanging passes before Kamada finished from close range.
David Moyes responded in the 66th minute by replacing Manuel Lanzini with Saïd Benrahma, and it was soon the Benrahma show.
The Algerian winger won a free-kick, danced around the defence before firing a shot off the post, and combined well with Aaron Cresswell to create a chance that went begging.
The game opened up in the closing stages with West Ham pushing for an equaliser. They almost paid the price when Kamada’s shot was deflected off the post.
West Ham came home strong with a succession of corners and free-kicks, Bowen heading Benhrama’s cross over the bar in the 89th minute.
Bowen had the final opportunity in added time, meeting Declan Rice’s cross with a spectacular overhead kick that beat Trapp but couldn’t beat the bar.
Tie in the balance
Eintracht scored their goals at the best possible moments and were fortunate with West Ham hitting the woodwork on three occasions.
The abolition of the away goal rule, the psychological effects of defending a lead at home and the threats posed by Jarrod Bowen and Saïd Benrahma means that the tie is still in the balance.
West Ham reached the semi-finals after winning second legs in Sevilla and Lyon. David Moyes knows his side can play a lot better, particularly in relation to set pieces, which he described as their worst in two years.