Football UCL

UEFA Europa League: Frankfurt and RB Leipzig bag victories

Eintracht Frankfurt beat West Ham 2-1 in Europa League semifinal first leg

Eintracht Frankfurt winger Ansgar Knauff opened the scoring in the first minute as they beat West Ham United 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday, with both teams seeking their first European final in over 40 years.

The last time the two teams met in the semi-finals of a European competition, West Ham won the two-legged tie to reach the 1976 Cup Winners’ Cup final.

‼ Victory in London ‼

⏹ 90’ | #WHUSGE 1-2 | #SGEuropa

— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) April 28, 2022

The visitors, however, stunned David Moyes’ men 49 seconds into the first half when Rafael Borre set up Knauff with a cross from the corner of the box and the 20-year-old headed home, silencing the sold-out 60,000 crowd at the London Stadium.

After sending home heavyweights Barcelona in the quarterfinals, Eintracht players did not want to waste the opportunity presented to them in the last four.

“I don’t know if I am doing anything special. But as against Barcelona, we put them under pressure right from the off,” Knauff told the reporters.

West Ham had a number of chances to level the score, including in the 14th minute when Jarrod Bowen received a beautiful pass inside the box but his effort bounced off the right post.

UEFA E̶u̶r̶o̶p̶a̶ Kamada League 😉🏆#WHUSGE #SGEuropa #UEL

— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) April 28, 2022

The Premier League side eventually equalised in the 21st, after Kurt Zouma connected with the free-kick and nodded on to forward Michail Antonio who made it 1-1 from close range.

“Today wasn’t one of our best performances,” Antonio said.

“It was not how we wanted to start the game. We got control of the game and created some chances which we didn’t take. It’s all to play for. It’s not over. We’re in it to win it.”

Knauff could have given Eintracht the lead again before halftime but his attempt from inside the box was well wide of the right post.

But Eintracht regained the lead in the 54th, as West Ham keeper Alphonse Areola stopped a shot by midfielder Djibril Sow but did not manage to save the follow-up strike by Daichi Kamada.

The Japan international, who netted his fifth Europa League goal this season, had a chance to score again in the 79th minute but his shot from close range crashed against the post.

Simply amazing! 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔! Eintracht! ❤️#WHUSGE #SGEuropa #UEL

— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) April 28, 2022

“The early goal gave us a boost of course. But their goal did not put us down, we recovered well from that,” Knauff said.

Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp added: “I am not surprised by our performance. We can do this if we are fully focused, we have proven this often.

“Tonight it was another highlight for us. We wanted to make the first step towards the final.”

West Ham, who advanced to the semifinal after overpowering Olympique Lyonnais, continued to seek an equaliser but had no luck, as Bowen’s stunning bicycle kick from near the penalty spot rattled the bar in stoppage time.

Leipzig snatch 1-0 win over Rangers with late Angelino goal

RB Leipzig’s Angelino volleyed in an 85th-minute winner to hand his team a 1-0 victory over visiting Rangers in their Europa League semifinal first leg on Thursday.

Leipzig had missed a string of chances in a strong second half but struggled to score, with Rangers keeper Allan McGregor coming to the rescue on several occasions.

YES! Victory in the first leg 💯

🔴⚪ #WeAreLeipzig #UEL #RBLRFC

— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 28, 2022

The keeper was beaten, however, in the 85th when the Spanish midfielder thundered in a volley from 18 metres after the Rangers had cleared a corner.

Eintracht Frankfurt beat West Ham United 2-1 in the first leg of the other semi-final.

“It was one of those games where we had to dig deep, they had a clear game plan and made life hard but we got the result we wanted,” said Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams.

“We know it’s only half-time in tie and we need to maintain our focus and performance for the return leg. We’ve been to a few cup finals before, but getting to a European cup final would be something special.”

There was very little goalmouth action in a lacklustre first half, which did not feature a single shot on target for either team.

Despite Leipzig missing several defenders through suspension, Rangers struggled to break into the Germans’ box and had to wait until three minutes after the restart for their first chance through Ryan Kent’s low shot that flew wide.

Leipzig quickly upped the tempo and responded with Christopher Nkunku’s thundering shot that was blocked by McGregor.

▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▯▯▯▯▯▯▯▯▯▯ 50%

🔴⚪ #WeAreLeipzig #UEL #RoadToSevilla

— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 28, 2022

The Frenchman spurned a golden chance in the 70th when he rounded the keeper but lost his balance to send his shot high. He then headed over the bar from close range minutes later before McGregor pulled off another good save to tip an Adams effort over the bar.

The visitors could do nothing when Angelino connected perfectly with the ball from just outside to fire in the winner and give his team the advantage going into next week’s second leg in Glasgow.

“It’s always disappointing when you lose a goal so late in the game, but it’s a 1-0 defeat,” said Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

“The players did well and we know what we have to do next week. We play at home and the crowd at Ibrox will give us the energy we need.”

Courtesy: Reuters