PLAYER RATINGS | Bayer Leverkusen overcome difficult West Ham test to book place in Europa League semi-final

Bayer Leverkusen’s Road to Dublin continues after a 1-1 draw against West Ham at the London Stadium booked them a place in the Europa League semi-finals against AS Roma. A 3-1 aggregate win, Bayer were forced to work hard, with goals from Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface in the first-leg proving crucial.

Bayer Leverkusen hold on in the first-half

Mohammed Kudus proved problematic for Bayer Leverkusen from the off. Josip Stanišić and Odilon Kossounou, on Bayer’s right-flank, struggled to contain the Ghanaian who was excellent throughout the first-half. From then on, the visitors struggled. A poor first touch from Kossounou resulted in the Ivorian being carded after just eight minutes, before being replaced just before the half-hour mark as his poor performance continued.

Bayer Leverkusen’s best, and only real chance, came through Nathan Tella and Patrik Schick after nine minutes. A one-two almost found Tella, but Schick’s return pass was played just behind the Nigerian, who’s been a standout player for Leverkusen this season despite his minimal minutes. And it was Tella who forced Łukasz Fabiański into a save after 11 minutes, the only time the Pole was called into action in the first half.

West Ham took the lead in the 13th minute after Kossounou’s failed clearance was picked up by the opposition. Jarrod Bowen’s inswinging cross from deep was met by the head of Antonio, who fired the hosts into a deserved lead. Bayer were just unable to deal with the physicality of their opponents in what was a difficult 45 minutes, which saw Matěj Kovář save shots from Kudus and Antonio in a three minute spell.

An improved Bayer Leverkusen side after the break

Bayer failed to execute their gameplan in the opening 45 minutes and that was evident with the arrival of Jeremie Frimpong and Victor Boniface at the break. Already the visitors looked more composed on the ball, comfortable in possession and quick in their transitions.

Whatever Xabi Alonso said at the break, it clearly worked. For much of the second-half, Leverkusen controlled possession to a point where they played 30+ passes, taking the sting out of West Ham’s attack, before Frimpong forced Fabianski into a save at his near post. Boniface’s hold-up was an improvement on Schick, while Granit Xhaka and Exequiel Palacios were able to get a foothold on the game in the middle.

Frimpong put any hopes of West Ham advancing to bed with a goal one minute from time, giving his side a 3-1 aggregate lead.

Bayer Leverkusen Player Ratings

Matěj Kovář (6) – Odilon Kossounou (2), Jonathan Tah (6), Piero Hincapié (6) – Josip Stanišić (4), Exequiel Palacios (6), Granit Xhaka (7), Alex Grimaldo (5) – Nathan Tella (5), Florian Wirtz (6) – Patrik Schick (4).

Others: Edmond Tapsoba (7), Jeremie Frimpong (6), Victor Boniface (6), Amine Adli (6)

GGFN | Daniel Pinder, from the London Stadium

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