Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham: What Were The Main Talking Points As Leverkusen Cruise Their Way To A Europa League Advantage?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, UEFA Europa League 12 Apr 2024

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Putting in what was a dominant performance at the BayArena on Thursday night, Bayer Leverkusen cruised their way to a routine 2-0 victory against West Ham.

Although the German record-breakers might have missed a string of chances on either side of the interval and been left frustrated, Xabi Alonso’s men eventually secured a deserved break through late on.

With second-half substitute Jonas Hofmann scrambling home in the 83rd minute, Leverkusen are now sat firmly in the driving seat to clinch a Europa League semi-final ticket.

Eventually extending their first-leg advantage in the final few moments as returning talisman Victor Boniface produced a wonderful header, Leverkusen are still remarkably yet to suffer a single defeat across any competition this season.

In complete control and now just 90 minutes away from booking a heavyweight semi-final showdown against either AC Milan or Roma, Alonso’s high-flying squad should be relishing a trip to east London next week.

Suffering late heartbreak here and continuing to show a string of inconsistencies since opening the New Year, West Ham certainly now face an almighty Europa League challenge.

In fact, the Hammers have claimed just four wins from any of their previous 18 appearances across all competitions.

On a night when Leverkusen breezed their way to a first-leg advantage, we have taken a look at the main talking points.

Complete dominance for the German high-flyers

Holding what is a remarkable 16-point buffer at the top of the Bundesliga table, Bayer Leverkusen have firmly cemented their spot as Europe’s surprise package this season.

Breezing their way to a maiden domestic crown and only continuing to receive a string of plaudits from across the continent, Thursday’s hosts have also broken a string of remarkable records.

In complete control here and more than deserving of their first-leg advantage at the BayArena, the German high-flyers have not suffered a single defeat across any competition so far this season and are pencilled in as a leading Europa League contender.

Embarking on a spectacular purple patch and riding an iconic wave of momentum, Alonso’s men have now won all of their previous seven appearances and they have dropped points on just one occasion since the end of January.

Not shipping a single goal in over 300 minutes of action and cruising past the defending Europa Conference League champions here, Leverkusen certainly made a real statement on Thursday night.

Alonso’s stock is at a red-hot high

Holding that astonishing 16-point buffer at the top of the Bundesliga standings and knowing that they can officially wrap up a maiden domestic crown when they host Werder Bremen this weekend, there is no doubt that a huge part of Leverkusen’s fairytale has been thanks to the impact of their talismanic boss.

While there might have been constant speculation last month that the Spanish tactical could be set to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool this summer, Alonso announced that he has no intention of leaving the BayArena.

With Leverkusen now looking to start a real dynasty under the one-time Real Madrid midfielder, Thursday’s hosts have also gained a fearsome reputation for their clinical performances in the final third.

Eventually finding a way past West Ham’s largely rugged defence here and more than deserving of their two-goal advantage, Alonso’s men have won their previous seven consecutive appearances by an aggregate score of 17-5.

Although Alonso might have made the decision to stay put at the BayArena, it is no surprise why the 42-year-old is regarded as one of Europe’s hottest managers.

West Ham now seeking a miracle

While West Ham might have mounted a dramatic late comeback away at Wolves last weekend as they eventually left Molineux with a 2-1 victory, the Hammers were more than aware that they faced a major challenge here.

Although David Moyes’ men might have produced a largely rugged performance on foreign soil, Thursday’s guests failed to find any kind of fluidity and their Europa League dreams are now hanging by a thread.

With the influential duo of Lucas Paqueta and Emerson Palmeri now set to serve their own respective one-match suspensions when Moyes’ men return to east London next week, attacking talisman Jarrod Bowen is also not expected to feature.

While West Ham might still have their sights set on securing another European finish among England’s elite this season, it appears that Moyes will be heading for the London Stadium exit this summer.

With the Hammers drastically struggling to find any kind of stability since opening the New Year, they have now recorded just four wins from their previous 18 appearances across all competitions.

Match Report

Bayer Leverkusen: Kovar, Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba, Grimaldo, Xhaka, Palacios, Frimpong, Wirtz, Adil, Schick

Subs: Boniface, Hofmann, Hincapie, Tella

West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma, Cresswell, Emerson, Soucek, Ward-Prowse, Kudus, Antonio, Paqueta

Subs: Aguerd, Johnson

Goals: Hofmann (83’), Boniface (90+1’)

Yellow Cards: Paqueta, Emerson

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Artur Manuel Soares Dias

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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