West Ham received two red cards as their Europa League dream came to a frustrating end with a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Hammers came into the semi-final second leg following the 2-1 defeat to the Bundesliga side last Thursday. In that game, early goals in each half proved pivotal for the visitors.
Over in Germany, it was a similar story as Aaron Cresswell saw red after 17 minutes for West Ham. Shortly after, Rafael Borre scored the crucial goal to make it 1-0 and 3-1 overall in the tie.
West Ham pushed to get back into the game but bar a clearance off the line, they produced little of note. However, Frankfurt’s resilient defense – led by Evan Ndicka – was impressive. And to make matters worse, Hammers boss David Moyes also saw red as the visitors’ frustrations boiled over in the second half.
West Ham won the first corner, putting Frankfurt on an early back foot. What’s more, injury to key defender Martin Hinteregger gave the German side another headache.
The Hammers then sought to get Michail Antonio in behind but didn’t create any real clear-cut chances.
And while Frankfurt’s numerical disadvantage with Hinteregger was only temporary, West Ham had to stay with 10 men after Cresswell’s red card.
The left-back battled to keep up with Jens Hauge’s good run towards goal, chasing a ball over the top. However, Cresswell got the wrong side and brought Hauge down. Referee Jesus Gil Manzano consulted the VAR monitor and subsequently showed Cresswell the red instead of an initial yellow.
That was the Englishman’s second sending-off in the knockout stages. He received his marching orders in the 1-1 quarter-final first leg against Lyon.
But despite West Ham recovering from that setback to advance into the semi-finals, this proved a step too far with Frankfurt already a goal ahead on aggregate.
And they made it 1-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate when Rafael Borre and Ansgar Knauff combined.
Frankfurt deliver crucial West Ham blow
Knauff, on the right of West Ham’s box, drilled in a low cross and Borre peeled away from Craig Dawson, who was unaware of the forward’s movement, to finish coolly past Alphonse Areola.
Frankfurt smelled blood and Knauff became a constant threat down West Ham’s left, where Ben Johnson had come on for Manuel Lanzini.
Up the other end, Antonio battled well with Ndicka and won a free-kick on the right of Frankfurt’s box from the Frankfurt defender.
However, Ndicka got back to clear the ball off the line in the Hammers’ best first-half chance.
In the second half, Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek moved closer to Antonio to try and improve his contributions.
Antonio found himself on the left at times, as he sought a bigger impact. However, after his cross from him found Dawson, the defender’s header was easily saved by Kevin Trapp.
Still, West Ham accepted the risk of leaving gaps at the other end, which Frankfurt were sloppy in exploiting. Indeed, Areola swept up Borre’s volley to keep it at 3-1.
Daichi Kamada could also have extended his side’s lead, but his touch let him down. Antonio, meanwhile, put in another cross from the right but Frankfurt resolutely defended again.
Moyes sees red as Hammers out
Tensions boiled over for West Ham and after Antonio got a yellow, Hammers boss David Moyes saw red after venting his frustration at a ball boy’s reluctance to give the ball back.
Antonio and Soucek had late chances, but they could just not find the net as Frankfurt advanced to the Europa League final.
West Ham’s focus now turns back to their Premier League campaign.
They are currently on course to qualify for the Europa Conference League but can still make the Europa League again.