West Ham United fell to a frustrating 2-1 defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday, leaving them with a uphill task for the second leg next week.

West Ham United’s Europa League hopes were dashed on Thursday night as they were defeated 2-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their semi-final at the London Stadium.

The Hammers got off to a shaky start in front of a boisterous crowd as the visitors stunned David Moyes’s men 49 seconds into the first half when Ansgar Knauff headed the away side in front from a Rafael Santos Borre cross, deafening the jam-packed 60,000-strong crowd at the London Stadium.

The hosts did well to get back on their feet and restore their composure, and they should have been level within a quarter of an hour. However, Jarrod Bowen could only hit the upright when put in a one-on-one situation with Kevin Trapp courtesy of a through pass from Tomas Soucek.

David Moyes’s men persisted and eventually managed to find the equaliser in the 21st minute when a set-piece situation delivered a fitting reward for their efforts. Kurt Zouma nodded across the six-yard box from Manuel Lanzini’s free-kick towards Michail Antonio, who tapped in from close range to make it 1-1.

Oliver Glasner’s men have been strong on their travels all season, and it was not a surprise that they capitalised on a strong start to the second half by restoring their lead ten minutes after the restart. It was a well-executed goal, with Djibril Sow ultimately being put through by a precise defence-splitting pass from Jesper Lindstrom, only for the Swiss midfielder to be denied by a fantastic stop from Alphonse Areola.

The rebound, though, dropped kindly for Daichi Kamada to slot into an empty net. After that, West Ham started to impose themselves more on the game and had the better share of opportunities, with substitute Said Benrahma clipping the upright corner with a long-range effort and Jarrod Bowen rattling the crossbar with a thunderous bicycle kick late on.

Yet, Frankfurt’s ability to counter became very obvious, as Glasner’s troops struck the crossbar through Kamada with little over ten minutes remaining. Eintracht were impressive, their movement was too quick, and their interplay too sharp for the Hammers to cope with.

With only one goal being the difference between the two sides heading into the return leg, this semi-final tie is perfectly poised for a thrilling climax next week. In the meantime, The Hard Tackle will run the rule over David Moyes’s men after an intense affair at the London Stadium.

Alphonse Areola: 6/10

Areola could not have done much about the opener from Ansgar Knauff, as the header was perfectly placed on his opposite side. His defence let him down on the second goal, but the French shot-stopper produced a superb stop to deny Sow initially. Otherwise, he was fairly untested, since the away team was only dangerous on turnovers.

Ben Johnson: 5/10

Defensively, Johnson did not do a lot wrong as he settled down after being tested early on by Filip Kostic. The youngster struggled a bit against an incredibly pacy attack, but it was his inability to get forward and create dangerous situations for Frankfurt that hindered West Ham’s general play. And whenever he looked a little better in forward areas, he was exposed by Frankfurt’s overlapping runs on turnovers.

Craig Dawson: 6/10

As expected, Dawson kept things simple at the back and made some vital interventions, most notably diverting Kamada’s late attempt onto the post to prevent a two-goal trail heading into the second leg. He won his aerial battles and duels as expected, but he was sliced open for the second goal with one-touch passes and will be upset. Also, the Englishman struggled at times to deal with the fluidity of Frankfurt’s football and blistering counter-attacks.

Kurt Zouma: 6.5/10

The gamble to rush him back paid dividends when his soaring header assisted Antonio’s equaliser. But while the Frenchman put in a decent defensive display at the heart of the backline, he was not at his dominating best and struggled with an ankle issue late in the second half.

Aaron Cresswell: 6/10

With Dawson out of position, Cresswell was covering at centre-back for the first goal, forcing Fornals to deal with Knauff’s run. The Englishman grew into the game and was strong at the back, notably doing fantastically to get a last-ditch toe-poke to just about thwart Knauff and deny Frankfurt a certain second just before the break, with the German then skying the subsequent effort.

Tomas Soucek: 6/10

Soucek provided a solid aerial presence once more but was not very dangerous on the ball despite playing some nice spaces in the second half. He played Jarrod Bowen through on goal early on, but the Englishman was unable to convert. He failed to track Djibril Sow’s run for Frankfurt’s second as West Ham struggled to get hold of proceedings in the central midfield for large periods of the game.

Declan Rice: 7/10

It was another night where Rice tried to make things happen and did his utmost to drive his side forward throughout the second half, but it did not work out on many instances. Defensively, he was decent as consistently broke up play and read the game well, but in possession, he was not at his best, which contributed to a lack of control. Also, he lost his composure and became preoccupied as Frankfurt broke dangerously and struck the post via Kamada.

Manuel Lanzini: 5/10

Barring the lovely free-kick onto Zouma’s head that resulted in the leveller and defensive tenacity, Lanzini did not offer anything positive in the final third and was the least effective of West Ham’s offensive players on the day as the Argentine international struggled to deal with the physicality of the visitors’ defenders. With West Ham losing 2-1, he was finally replaced by Benrahma.

Jarrod Bowen: 8/10

Bowen had a lively game, as he was heavily involved in lots of West Ham’s best passages of play, but his final pass was not there all night. The 25-year-old should have scored the equaliser inside the opening 15 minutes when sent through by Soucek, but he hit the post.

And he almost salvaged a draw by striking the woodwork with a ludicrous bicycle kick that could have easily been a contender for the Puskas award for this season if it materialised. Aside from that, the English attacker was incisive, direct and showcased some clever touches and darting dribbles.

Michail Antonio: 7/10

Antonio was in the right place at the right time to snap his goal drought, burying the equaliser beyond Kevin Trapp following an excellent header from Zouma. His hold-up play was superb at times, and worked tirelessly for the team. He did most of the selfless work, pulling the defenders around with his pace and strength while effectively linking up the play and setting up a second-half chance for Soucek.

Pablo Fornals: 4/10

It was a poor display from Fornals, who has certainly had better games than this one. He was at fault for the first goal for not tracking Knauff’s late run at the back post. Although he floated around in space, the Spaniard was missing a spark and never looked threatening.

SUBSTITUTES

Said Benrahma: 7/10

After his introduction, Benrahma was a real threat and almost scored a long-range cracker after skipping past two Frankfurt defenders, only to see it fall narrowly wide of the top right corner. He had another opportunity after bringing down a long ball cleanly, but he squandered the subsequent attempt with Antonio lurking at the back post.

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