West Ham lead 2-1 over AZ Alkmaar in Europa Conference League

West Ham lead 2-1 over AZ Alkmaar in Europa Conference League

Report from the first leg of the Europa Conference League semifinal between West Ham and AZ Alkmaar at the London Stadium. Goals from Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio give the Hammers the advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Tijjani Reijnders gave the Dutch team the lead four minutes before halftime following a contentious buildup. However, the Hammers were able to tie the game thanks to Said Benrahma’s penalty after a sluggish start to the second half.

After a change in momentum, David Moyes’ team finally seized the lead thanks to a prod from Antonio after Nayef Aguerd’s header was cleared off the line.

Antonio’s 14th goal of the year, the finest performance of his eight seasons in east London, was sufficient to give West Ham the lead going into the second leg in the Netherlands on Thursday.

Danny Ings was going to replace him, Moyes admitted after the game. We simply needed a different approach at the very end, and if it had been five minutes sooner, I might have removed him.

How West Ham united to seize initiative

West Ham took the field in east London for their second European semi-final in a row in an effort to reach their first European final since 1976. Pyrotechnics, pyrotechnics, and a cauldron of noise awaited the teams. It was a setting appropriate for a championship, let alone the last four.

The Hammers created a number of chances as a result of their willingness to allow their Dutch opponents retain possession in order to play on the counter. Following Declan Rice’s cross, Jarrod Bowen flicked a header over, then Benrahma forced former Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan to make a fingertip stop before shooting over from deep.

However, their 0.71 anticipated goals statistic from eight shots at halftime showed a lack of instinct in the closing third.

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