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West Ham fall to late defeat against Leverkusen, can they turn it around next week?

West Ham United fell to a late 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday evening.

The odds were firmly stacked against the Hammers before kick-off, considering the remarkable form of the Bundesliga champions-elect, who are yet to taste defeat this season.

It was unsurprising to see David Moyes switch to a back-three system – a tweak forced by injuries and suspension. But it also allowed him to match Leverkusen’s system.

However, in stark contrast to the hosts, Moyes set up in a traditional counter-attacking system, hoping to knick a result at BayArena.

The plan worked a treat for over 80 minutes, repelling Xabi Alonso’s relentless troops, although that meant coming under heavy pressure for the bulk of the high-stakes fixture.

Leverkusen remained patient and explored several options to break down a resilient Hammers backline. Despite monopolising possession, the Germans failed to carve any clear-cut chances.

They registered a staggering 18 shots with five on target only in the first half, a far cry from West Ham’s measly one shot, which came about from a counter-attack that saw Mohammed Kudus’ tame effort comfortably saved.

That effort turned out to be our only attempt at goal throughout the game, while Lukasz Fabianski repeatedly kept West Ham in the tie with nine saves.

One of Fabianski’s best saves came late in the game when he thwarted a header from Patrick Shick, tipping the effort over the crossbar as Leverkusen piled on the pressure.

Despite his heroics, Fabianski’s goal was eventually breached in the 83rd minute when Jonas Hofmann rifled home a volley after West Ham failed to clear their lines from a corner.

A frantic finale saw Tomas Soucek clear two Jonathan Tah efforts off the line, but the Hammers were left heartbroken when Victor Boniface’s header put the game to bed.

Another comeback on the cards?

Coming up against Leverkusen was always going to be a mammoth task, and taking a two-goal deficit into the second leg at London Stadium doesn’t make it easier.

Moyes’ negative football never gave West Ham a chance to take the game to the Germans, but given Leverkusen’s unbeaten form, perhaps he can be forgiven for taking a cautious approach.

Lucas Paqueta and Emerson Palmieri are both suspended for the second leg, so West Ham may be without five key players when Leverkusen visit London Stadium.

However, history has shown that the Hammers are capable of remarkable comebacks, so the fans must rally behind the squad and maintain belief in their ability to defy the odds.

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