HomeEuropa LeagueBayer Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham: Hofmann and Boniface break Irons' resistance

Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham: Hofmann and Boniface break Irons’ resistance

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Late strikes from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface broke West Ham’s resistance as Bayer Leverkusen put one foot in the Europa League semi-finals with a 2-0 win in Germany on Thursday.

West Ham set up to frustrate Leverkusen and looked like taking the quarter-final tie back to London at 0-0, only for Xabi Alonso’s changes to make the difference late on.

Hofmann’s left-footed volley found a way through the crowd to put the hosts ahead with seven minutes of the 90 remaining, but they did not settle for a 1-0 lead and went in search of a second goal.

That arrived one minute into stoppage time as Boniface headed past the outstanding Lukasz Fabianski, leaving David Moyes’ men needing a huge response when the teams meet again at the London Stadium next week.

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Fabianski was busy early on, denying Patrik Schick and Amine Adli either side of Mohammed Kudus shooting too close to Matej Kovar when West Ham carved out a rare counterattacking chance.

West Ham were perhaps fortunate to keep all 11 men on the pitch when Lucas Paqueta took a wild swipe at Adli, though his booking was still costly as he will now be suspended for next week’s second leg.

Fabianski got down to make further saves from Alejandro Grimaldo and Schick before the break, tipping the latter’s low drive around the post, as West Ham continued to frustrate their hosts.

Leverkusen continued to play in front of West Ham after half-time, struggling to carve out clear-cut chances until Fabianski acrobatically pushed Schick’s header over with 72 minutes on the clock.

However, the 76th-minute introductions of Hofmann and Boniface changed the game in Leverkusen’s favour. The former reacted quickest following a goalmouth scramble just seven minutes after entering the fray, his low strike flying through a sea of bodies and in.

Far from seeking an equaliser, West Ham were penned back from there as they scrambled to stay within one goal, with Tomas Soucek’s goal-line block denying Jonathan Tah.

However, Moyes’ defence switched off in stoppage time as Leverkusen โ€“ who are still unbeaten in all competitions this season โ€“ took another huge step towards the last four, Boniface stooping to head Hofmann’s cross home and spark wild celebrations at the BayArena.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.

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