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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the London Stadium

Ten-man West Ham keep Europa League dream alive after defiance to hold back Lyon

Europa League Quarter Final 1st leg

West Ham (0) 1 Bowen 52

Lyon (0) 1 Ndombele 65

West Ham had to play the second half with 10 men but somehow held their nerve to eke out a draw which very much keeps alive their hopes of reaching the Europa League semi-finals.

They lost Aaron Cresswell to a ‘last man’ foul just before the break but found a way to steal a lead through Jarrod Bowen.

Spurs loanee Tanguy Ndombele – of all people – drew the French side level but in spite of a monopoly of territory and 70 per cent possession, the visitors could not pick their way through a determined thicket of claret shirts for a second time.

Cresswell was shown a straight red card in first-half stoppage time as they battled for a first leg lead to take to France next week.

David Moyes was incensed by the dismissal – given by German ref Felix Zwayer for the sleeve tug from the Irons defender on Moussa Dembele as the striker was bearing down on goal.

The West Ham boss waited to speak to the official and received a yellow card for his troubles.

That consigned the Irons to a demanding 45-minute assignment which inevitably altered the scale of their ambitions, but they managed to change the narrative with a goal out of nothing.

Former Bayern Munich stalwart Jerome Boateng miscontrolled a loose ball into the area after Pablo Fornals had been tackled and lurking behind him was Bowen, whose shot on the turn deflected off Boateng and over keeper Anthony Lopes.

It was his 14th of the season and probably the most important one so far and it lifted him after what had been a quiet first half. He soon after put on the after-burners to scurry down the left before centering low to the far post – only just out of reach for Michail Antonio.

But Lyon were level not long after when sub Tete – who had only just come on - sent in a low cross which Alphonse Areola could only paw onto Ryan Fredericks, and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Ndombele for a simple prod home.

That led to a spell of relentless pressure from the visitors as the Hammers massed their 10 men around the 18-yard box while Lyon tried in vain to pick their way through.

European quarter-finals don’t come around too often for most clubs. This was a first for the Hammers in 41 years since that famous clash with Dinamo Tbilisi a year on from the 1980 FA Cup triumph.

But the atmosphere here was very different from the last round against Sevilla. The fact this was a first leg tie ensured a far cagier ambience compared to that hot-blooded affair. It made for fascinating viewing, none the less.

Lyon, lying in a modest ninth place in French Ligue 1 controlled the early stages as both teams sized each other up. If the Hammers had planned on an all-out assault early on, it did not materialise.

The crowd at last had something to get excited about after 15 minutes when Craig Dawson pinged a long ball out wide for Said Benrahma to control in an instant before bearing down on goal. Lopes palmed his shot away but the volume levels rose.

Antonio’s flicked header then played Fornals into space and he received a return pass which opened up a half chance which was blocked.

But the visitors had most of the ball throughout and looked comfortable in possession, while playmaker Lucas Paqueta kept finding dangerous pockets of space. They will take some beating in next week’s return but at least the Hammers are still alive.

Hammers: (4-3-3) Areola – Fredericks, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell – Soucek, Rice, Fornals – Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma (Johnson h/t).

OL: (4-4-2) Lopes – Gusto, Boateng (Ekambi 64), Lukeba, Emerson – Aouar, Mendes (Denayer 90), Ndombele, Faivre (Tete 65) – Lucas Paqueta, Dembele


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