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David Moyes believes West Ham still in tie despite Bayer Leverkusen defeat

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Apr 2024

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David Moyes insists West Ham still have “half a chance” to reach the Europa League semi-finals despite an agonising 2-0 first-leg defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers defended heroically for 83 minutes of a one-sided encounter against the Bundesliga leaders in Germany.

But late goals from substitutes Jonas Hoffman and Victor Boniface left West Ham with it all to do in next week’s second leg against a team yet to lose a match this season.

Moyes told TNT Sports: “Leverkusen have a good record of scoring late. We were aware of that. We did a great job but we played against a Champions League side and we’re not quite at that level.

“We’re still in the tie and we have half a chance in the second leg.

“We’d like to have played more attacking. The players did a brilliant job with the structure. We got done by two corner kicks. The second one was really poor from our point of view.

“It’s going to take some performance because they’re a really good team. You never know what’s going to happen. Let’s try to get one and then see if we can get two. We’ll pick ourselves up for next week and hopefully get the crowd behind us.

“This team we’re playing will be Champions League next year. We have to recognise what we’re playing against. We’ll have to do exceptionally well to get that result.”

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi made a string of excellent saves to keep the hosts at bay.

The former Poland international, who turns 39 next Thursday, added: “We are very disappointed.

“We worked hard for 80 minutes and then we gave two goals away from set-pieces. Usually defending set-pieces is our strength but you have to give a lot of credit to the opposition because they pushed the whole game.

“The more disappointing thing is that we conceded the second goal. It gives them a bit more confidence. We won’t give up. We have to believe and respond in the second leg.

“I wouldn’t say we ran out of energy. Both teams did their best. In the end the second set-piece felt too easy. It felt like the striker had too much space.

“We have a really good record at home. They’re special magical nights and hopefully the second leg will be the same.”

To make matters worse, West Ham will be without Lucas Paqueta through suspension for the return leg.

Leverkusen’s former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka said: “We knew before the game West Ham would be deep, but we showed one more time we have the quality to beat these teams.

“The second goal helps a lot for the second leg and we’ll have to be focused from the beginning.”

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