West Ham frustrated at 'poor' refereeing after ill-tempered Frankfurt defeat ends Europa dream
Aaron Cresswell’s second European red card in three appearances all-but ended West Ham’s chances of overturning a 2-1 deficit as Eintracht Frankfurt ended their Europa League dream at the semi-final stage.
West Ham last reached a European final in 1976 but have not won a major continental trophy since 1965, a streak they were hoping to end after toppling Sevilla and Lyon en route to the semi-finals.
However, they were already trailing 2-1 after the first leg and Eintracht Frankfurt’s raucous home fans were given more reasons to sing when Cresswell was shown red after an intervention by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The German side then added insult to injury when Ansgar Knauff pulled the ball back to Rafael Borre, who converted from 10 yards out.
West Ham were frustrated but could have few complaints about being down to 10 men. However, the game turned bad-tempered in a second half in which the Hammers remained in touch but lost their manager from the touchline with 11 minutes to go.
Striker Michail Antonio came the closest to pulling West Ham back level on the night and within a goal of extra time, but his shot with three minutes remaining was comfortably gathered by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
By ‘s chief football writer Daniel Storey at the Westfalenstadion WESTFALENSTADION — The West Ham supporters travelled to Frankfurt still believing. Sevilla has convinced them that they could beat anyone. Lyon had convinced them that they could dominate away from home. But in the cracks and bangs of one of Europe’s best atmospheres, they sank without trace. Ten men chasing the ball, growing increasingly fatigued while their hosts enjoyed near-total control – it wasn’t meant to end like this and it isn’t just mawkish sentiment to say so. There will be regret at the demise itself. Eintracht Frankfurt are technically proficient and made the most of their chances in both legs, but they are not as good as Sevilla. West Ham beat the best team in the competition and didn’t win it. But the greatest lament will be saved for the manner of their exit, entirely self-inflicted. The first mistake was individual: Aaron Cresswell could have complaints about his red card against Lyon in the quarter-finals, but it should have taught him at least that if he misjudged a duel and lost his man he’d be far better off giving up the battle. This was far more blatant, even if it required a VAR check. It was also a strategic mistake. As against Lyon, Cresswell – a fairly diminutive left-back – was left as the last man against a ball over the top. If David Moyes was happy to go one v one against a physical striker, which seems overly risky, the least he should do is make it a central defender. And why did Moyes continue to pick such a strong team in the league? It made chasing a game with 10 so much harder.
West Ham captain Declan Rice could not contain his frustrations at referee Jesus Gil Manzano, who he felt did not give the visitors the rub of the green during the game.
Rice himself was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct in first-half stoppage time as were two other West Ham players as tempers boiled over on a noisy night in Frankfurt.
In total, Manzano handed out eight yellow cards and two reds, some of which Rice agreed with but much of which he did not.
“Obviously the sending off was probably a sending off looking back at it, but some of the other decisions were poor tonight,” he told BT Sport.
“Nothing seemed to go for us. The ref seemed to make every decision go for them, and in the end, when you’ve got someone who’s against you, you can’t really do much.”
Manager David Moyes was one of those who saw red after a fracas that followed him kicking out in anger.
“I kicked the ball back at the ball boy,” Moyes said.
“So I apologise for that. But you know, he threw it very softly at me.”
The Scottish former Everton and Manchester United boss also suggested that his team had consistently got on the wrong side of referees in their Europa League campaign and would have to be more savvy in future.
“We’ve enjoyed being in the competition. I don’t know if we’ve enjoyed the officiating, but we’ve enjoyed it,” Moyes added.
“We’ve learnt a lot of things. Maybe we’ll get a little bit wiser as we go along, and do it [reach the latter stages of the Europa League] a bit more often hopefully.