Three years after faltering at Stamford Bridge in the 2018/19 Europa League semi-finals, Eintracht Frankfurt have emerged from London with a victory in their opening UEL semi-final leg.
The Eagles of Germany's commercial capital can now add West Ham United to an impressive list of away scalps claimed in the 2021/22 UEL knockout rounds.
Oliver Glasner's Bundesliga representatives can nevertheless count themselves lucky, as their English hosts struck the woodwork thrice.
Real Betis. FC Barcelona. Now West Ham United. Eintracht Frankfurt completed their third consecutive away victory in the 2021/22 Europa League. In a very intense affair Thursday night at London's Olympic stadium, the German guests prevailed 2-1 over their hosts in a contest that featured four hits off the goalposts.
SGE trainer Oliver Glasner had to duo without both defender Evan N'dicka and midfielder Kristijan Jakic, both suspended for the next phase of the competition after incurring bookings at the Camp Nou. Thankfully, midfielder Djibril Sow was once again fit in time to take Jakic's place alongside captain Sebastian Rode. Almamy Touré stepped in for N'dicka to complete Glasner's usual 3-6-1/3-4-3.
In front of a sell out crowd at London's Olympic Stadium, the German guests supplied an early shock before West Ham's trademark pre-match bubbles had fully dissipated in the air. Lead striker Rafael Santos Borré was accorded too much space in the lefthand corner of the penalty area. The Colombian striker spun around neatly and whipped in an inviting cross off the turn. Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff headed home for the early 1-0.
The English hosts had to pick themselves up off the canvas before one minute had elapsed. Glasner's men did a remarkably good job keeping the Hammers out of the penalty area over the next ten minutes. David Moises' Hammers did punch through in the 14th. Jarrod Bowen fired in a low-driven effort that Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp could only deflect with the sole of his foot. The ball ended up bouncing off the post.
Feeling a bit more confident, West Ham took some more risks. Eintracht, in turn, took advantage of the space and ran some promising counters. The equalizer came in the 21st off a set-piece. Kurt Zouma headed on a free kick to the far post. Michail Antonio and Declan Rice were both lurking, with the former pushing the ball over the line.
Matters settled down after the second goal, with both sides largely neutralizing one another. The Germans got another opportunity in the 39th via a lightning quick counterattack. Knauff eventually got the ball and narrowly missed a brace with a quick snapshot finish on a swivel turn from short range. It nevertheless wasn't to be and the two sides went into the tunnel deadlocked.
Thomas Soucek fired the first warning shot after the restart. The Czech international's ambitious 49th-minute effort sailed wide. Five minutes after that, the Germans reclaimed the lead. Sow and Jesper Lindstrøm combined well on the left. Sow fired in an effort that Hammers' keeper Alphonse Areola could only palm into the path of Daichi Kamada. The Japanese international slid into the empty net for the 2-1.
Some stoppages impeded the flow of the match over the next 20 minutes. The next major chance for an equalizer came in the 68th. The recently subbed on Said Benrahma had Trapp beaten after a Rice free-kick bounced off the SGE wall back to him. Unfortunately, the hosts were left to lament another strike off the post. The Algerian international's powerful hit the corner of the goal frame.
Some particularly stalwart defensive work from Rode, Sow, and defensive captain Martin Hinteregger defused wave after wave of West Ham attacks over the next ten minutes. The Germans then hit the post in the 79th when Kamada lofted in a nice try off a Borré-directed counter. Tuta, Touré, Sow and Hinteregger had to deal with some late West Ham pressure.
Match official Serdar Gözübüyük deemed a couple of challenges unfair. Both Hinteregger and Sow were booked. Two massive chances for the Londoners in the final minutes neatly saw Moises' men grab an equalizer. Touré dealt well with a Jarrod Bowen header in the 89th. Bowen nearly achieved the sensational at 90+2 with a first-time overhead bicycle.
Luckily for Frankfurt, the ball slammed off the crossbar and then off Trapp's unguarded backside before being shepherded out of bounds.
|41||D. Rice (C)|
|10||M. Lanzini ↪66|
|9||M. Antonio ⚽|
|22||S. Benrahma ↩66|
|36||A. Knauff ⚽|
|17||S. Rode (C)|
|29||J. Lindstrøm ↪62|
|15||D. Kamada ⚽|
|19||R. Borré ↪90|
|21||R. Ache ↩90|
|23||J. Hauge ↩62|
|24||D. da Costa|