What lessons can West Ham take into their second leg vs Frankfurt?

West Ham paid the price for a sloppy start and wasted chances in their Europa League semi-final defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt… so, what lessons can David Moyes’ men take into their crucial second leg in Germany?

  • West Ham suffered a 2-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night
  • Frankfurt gained the upper hand in their Europa League semi-final first leg
  • The Hammers missed a number of opportunities and started the game slowly
  • David Moyes will need his side to be firing on all cylinders in next week’s decider 

West Ham’s hopes of reaching a first European final for 46 years were dented in their 2-1 defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.

The Hammers got off to the worst start possible in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie, falling a goal behind inside the first minute when Ansgar Knauff headed home after 49 seconds.

Michail Antonio levelled proceedings by converting from close range 20 minutes later, only for Daichi Kamada to pounce on a rebound in the box eight minutes after half-time and fire Frankfurt back in front.

West Ham lost 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt 

The Bundesliga outfit dented their hopes of reaching a first European final for 46 years

Jarrod Bowen struck the woodwork late on, but David Moyes’ men could not find an equaliser and will therefore head to Germany for next week’s second leg with a mountain to climb.

While it was a disappointing evening for them, West Ham are very much still alive in the tie and will be buoyed by their stunning second-leg win away at Lyon that got them to the semi-final.

And following Thursday’s defeat, Sportsmail has picked out four lessons for Moyes and Co to take into the Frankfurt decider.   

Hit the ground running

The London Stadium was rocking on Thursday night prior to one of the biggest games in West Ham’s history, but Knauff’s 49th-second opener well and truly burst their bubble.

Pablo Fornals was caught napping at the back post, allowing the Frankfurt winger to sneak in and head past Alphonse Areola.

His early goal was the perfect way to take the sting out of a hostile atmosphere and leave the Hammers with an early obstacle to overcome, which they eventually managed when Antonio levelled.

However, they were later punished for making an equally sloppy start to the second half, with several defenders left ball-watching when an unmarked Kamada swept into an empty net to restore the visitors’ lead.

Ansgar Knauff’s 49th-minute header ensured the Hammers got off to the worst possible start

Knauff burst their bubble early on at the London Stadium after firing Frankfurt in front

David Moyes’ men need to avoid a similarly sloppy start to next week’s crucial second leg

If they are to turn things around in Frankfurt next week, Moyes needs to ensure his West Ham stars come flying out of the traps and take the game to Oliver Glasner’s men.

Another sluggish opening to the second leg could see them concede a third, which would make their task even more difficult.   


Keep things tight 

It was not only the start of each half when Frankfurt posed West Ham problems, nevertheless. The Bundesliga club were dangerous on the break all night long and came mightily close to extending their lead when Kamada hit the woodwork late on.

The east London club had been fairly solid in Europe up until Thursday night, conceding just five goals in their 10 previous outings while recording six clean sheets.

Keeping Frankfurt at bay will make things much easier in the second leg, as only a goal would be required to send the tie to extra-time and a 2-0 win would be enough to book their place in the final.

Kurt Zouma, who returned to the side after damaging his ankle against Brentford earlier this month, was a surprise inclusion at the back on Thursday and, like many of his team-mates, did not cover himself in glory.

West Ham were caught napping at the back when Daichi Kamada tapped into an empty net

Kamada was also unlucky not to make it three when he was denied by the woodwork late on

The Frenchman looked rusty after missing their previous two matches against Burnley and Chelsea, leaving Moyes with a big decision to make over the next week.

He could throw Zouma back into the side against Arsenal on Sunday in a bid to bring him back up to speed before the Frankfurt showdown, yet doing so would also risk him aggravating his ankle problem.

With Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna out, West Ham need Zouma to be available for the second leg in Germany, as Moyes would be forced to either move Declan Rice to centre-back or switch to a three-man defence without him.

And heading into such a crucial game, the Hammers boss will not be keen on experimenting with his backline.    

Kurt Zouma, brought back into the side after recovering from injury, appeared out of sorts

Find shooting boots

Despite their slow start and defensive mishaps, West Ham carved out more than enough opportunities to have at least come away with a draw on Thursday night. 

They registered almost double the amount of shots their opponents managed, producing 15 efforts compared to Frankfurt’s eight, but the visitors somehow had twice as many attempts on target (4/2) while also scoring twice.

Said Benrahma came close with a dipping effort from long range in the 68th minute, before later drawing moans from the crowd by firing over with Antonio unmarked in the box.

Bowen, who was unlucky to strike the crossbar with a terrific overhead kick in stoppage time, also lacked composure in the final third at times.

The Hammers cannot afford to be as wasteful in front of goal when they make the trip to Hesse next week. An early leveller would spark life back into the Hammers, yet they need to be much more precise and clinical to make that happen.

Though it is equally important that they remain calm and don’t panic, with only one goal required to force extra-time.       

Jarrod Bowen lacked composure at times when presented with chances in the final third

Keep the faith 

Thursday’s defeat was undoubtedly a disappointment, but West Ham have proven capable of shifting up a gear in European second legs this season and can take confidence from their previous showings.

They were beaten 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Sevilla, before beating the Spanish club 2-0 in extra-time to reach the quarter-finals.

And after a 1-1 draw against Lyon, Moyes’ men blitzed their way to a swaggering 3-0 win out in France to reach the last four.

The Hammers are more than capable of winning out in Frankfurt, although that will not be a simple task given their opponents are unbeaten in all 11 of their Europa League outings this season.

With that being said, the German side are languishing in ninth place in the Bundesliga for a reason. They are certainly beatable. And all the pressure will be on the hosts in next week’s decider.

If they take the right lessons from Thursday’s loss and execute a more efficient game plan in Frankfurt, West Ham’s dream of a European showpiece could still become a reality.

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