Leverkusen Strikes Late to Secure First-Leg Advantage Against West Ham in Europa League Quarter-Final

Bayer Leverkusen displayed resilience and determination as they scored twice in the final minutes to break West Ham’s resistance and claim the upper hand in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash.

Jonas Hofmann’s strike pierced through a congested penalty area, finding the net to give Xabi Alonso’s side the lead with just seven minutes remaining. Leverkusen’s dominance in possession finally translated into a tangible advantage as Victor Boniface doubled their lead in injury time with a well-directed header from Hofmann’s delivery.

Despite Leverkusen’s control of the game, West Ham’s superbly organized defense frustrated their hosts for much of the match. The visitors showed discipline and offered a threat on the counter, notably through the pace and power of Michail Antonio.

Antonio’s incisive run down the left created a prime opportunity for Mohammed Kudus in the first half, but the Ghana winger’s shot was thwarted by Leverkusen goalkeeper Matej Kovar.

Smart saves from West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski kept Leverkusen at bay, denying Patrick Schick’s attempts and tipping a header over the bar in the second half.

Leverkusen’s late surge secured their victory, extending their unbeaten streak to an impressive 42 matches.

David Moyes’ strategic approach saw West Ham adopt a defensive stance, aiming to frustrate Leverkusen and capitalize on counterattacks. While their plan nearly succeeded, the pressure eventually broke through, leaving the Hammers with a daunting task in the second leg.

Despite the setback, West Ham can draw encouragement from Antonio’s impactful performance and the potential return of Jarrod Bowen from injury for the next match. However, they will face challenges without Emerson Palmieri and Lucas Paqueta, both suspended due to yellow cards.

Leverkusen’s penchant for late goals came to the fore once again, showcasing their persistence and attacking prowess. Although the job is not complete, Alonso’s side holds a significant advantage heading into the second leg, instilling confidence in their quest for a semi-final berth.

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