West Ham held Lyon to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, despite playing the entire second period and eight minutes into injury time with ten men.
The first half was largely uneventful until a big sticking point occurred in stoppage time when Aaron Cresswell was given a straight red card in controversial circumstances.
Lyon controlled possession in early exchanges without threatening too often. Moussa Dembele came the closest ten minutes when Lucas Paquetá’s cross essentially hit him and narrowly went flying.
The hosts created their own opening after a quarter of an hour, with Said Benrahma holding off his man in the left channel before forcing Anthony Lopes into a decent save from the angle.
London Stadium held its collective breath as Houssem Aouar came under challenge from Ryan Fredericks in the penalty area, but the midfielder’s appeal was rejected and West Ham survived the inevitable VAR review. Replays showed the right back had made some contact with his man.
Then came the decisive moment in stoppage time of the first half. Dembélé latched onto a through ball from Aouar and Cresswell pulled him back on the edge of the box, though a hard touch seemed to deflect the Lyon player a bit.
However, referee Felix Zwayer went straight into his back pocket and gave the full-back his running orders, with VAR upholding the decision. The halftime whistle soon followed, and a furious David Moyes received a yellow card for his protests.
Fueled by that perceived injustice, West Ham forced a first goal early in the second half. Jerome Boateng controlled the ball poorly in the box and it rolled towards Jarrod Bowen, whose shot was well deflected by the experienced German defender to lift it over the rushing goalkeeper.
Tottenham loan Tanguy Ndombele went close to the distance shortly before the hour mark, but his effort always went wide of the post. However, he wouldn’t have to wait long to score a goal, as he gleefully touched the plate after Fredericks inadvertently knocked down Tete’s low cross into his path.
The Hammers’ best opening of the half came when Bowen sent a perfect low cross into Antonio’s path across acres of space, but somehow neither he nor the advancing keeper could make contact with the ball.
Lyon investigated for the rest of the match but was unable to create anything of note as they searched for a winner. Alphonse Areola was unable to contain Paquetá’s rough advance with 12 minutes left, but luckily for West Ham, no one was on hand to punish him.
Eight minutes of stoppage time were added and Les Gones had two more half chances, with Dembele sending in a header before Areola was forced to deflect a low shot from Chelsea loan Emerson.
It ended all square. This is how the players rated…
Alfonso Areola (GK) – 5/10 – Very accurate kicks to Antonio. He barely tried but didn’t do enough to cut Tete’s cross before the leveller.
Ryan Fredericks (RB) – 6/10 – Perhaps he was lucky to escape punishment after catching the dangerous Aouar in the box. Unfortunately, he got into a spin and put the ball in Ndombele’s way. Solid otherwise.
Craig Dawson (CB) – 7/10 – As usual, he seemed to be in the way constantly. A typical defensive display of wrestling. Three HUGE sliding tickets in stoppage time.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – 7/10 – He got double figures for clearances, reflecting the nature of the task after the red card. Like his partner, he put his body on the line.
Aaron Cresswell (LB) – 3/10 – He took out Said Benrahma well on his flank. Sent off with a direct red card for knocking down Dembélé. Lasted.
Tomas Soucek (CM) – 6/10 – A bit uneven at times, but he did what he was asked to do, breaking up Lyon’s play and disrupting the midfield.
Declan Rice (CM) – 7/10 – Some sublime passes, but West Ham struggled to get him on the ball initially. Influence grew at both ends. He won the vast majority of his duels on the ground and in the air.
Pablo Fornals (AM) – 7/10 – Always a willing runner. He caused a disturbance, intercepted the ball and charged into the box before the ball broke past Bowen to open the scoring.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – 8/10 – He ran hard to no avail before capitalizing on Boateng’s horrible mistake and doing just enough to get the ball home. Reserved.
Miguel Antonio (ST) – 6/10 – He made the board roll every time a long ball came to him. He spoiled his only sight of goal, but he worked tirelessly. Reserved.
Said Benrahma (LW) – 5/10 – He had some good positions but was frustrated with his final product. Sacrificed by Ben Johnson at halftime.
Ben Johnson (LB) – 5/10 – He gave Tete too much time and space before the leveller. He finally settled down and made some important defensive moves.