West Ham come from behind to earn semi-final advantage, Basel lead Fiorentina

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Goals from Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio gave West Ham dreams of their first trophy in 43 years to last after a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final against AZ Alkmaar.

The Hammers are favorites to beat the Dutch dark horses. but had to return to fight at the London stadium The stadium sold out when goalkeeper Alphonse Areola gifted AZ the lead just before halftime.

But another mistake by Australia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan earned West Ham a penalty. which Benrah had a change of heart

Antonio then poked home from a corner after a scramble from the mouth of the goal to give the Hammers a pivotal lead in next Thursday’s second leg in the Netherlands.

There was a sense of optimism ahead of the game with West Ham almost secured from relegation and captain Declan Rice confidently predicted ‘the good times are back’ in his program log. Although it was unlikely that he would come here to enjoy it for a long time.

Still, the European final in Prague on June 7 against Fiorentina or Basel. It would be the right way for the England midfielder to leave before making a big-money move in the summer.

But AZ, an advanced club based on the moneyball model used by Brentford as well. It is a young team that plays sharp offensive games. who had beaten Lazio and Anderlecht to reach the quarter-finals

They were watched out of the director’s box by Billy Beane, the real-life inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in the baseball film Moneyball, who owned a stake in them.

AZ goalkeeper Ryan is unbeaten in five previous meetings with West Ham while playing for Brighton. And he began trying to maintain that record when he came on well to pierce Benrahma’s defence.

West Ham learned a painful lesson in last season’s Europa League semi-final. By conceding a goal in the first minute of the first leg and losing Aaron Cresswell to a red card in the second when they lost to Eintracht. Frankfurt

They were forewarned when former Southampton midfielder Jordy Clasie fired the ball past the post.

And history repeated itself as West Ham let AZ take the lead shocking five minutes before half-time. Reynanders hits the near post.

West Ham benefit from victory over Manchester United on Sunday, David de Gea let Benrah’s docile shot come in. But it still doesn’t look good for the Hammers goalkeeper.

West Ham protested that there was a foul on Lucas. Spaghetti before the start of the game Turkish referee Halil Umut Mellor even blew a whistle to his lips before play resumed. But the door still stood.

However, the hosts were saved in the 67th minute when Ryan missed his punch in the corner and caught Jarrod Bowen square in front.

Mailer who creates dissatisfaction with the home fans in every match. point to penalty And Benrahma stepped up to bury the penalty in the post.

Eight minutes later, West Ham went on. Antonio stabbed home with a rebound after Nayev’s header. Agued is off the line. giving them a slight advantage and if they get better next week Every opportunity is a step closer to the first European trophy since 1965 .

A stoppage-time goal from Seki Amduni gave Basel a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday. causing the Swiss favorites to qualify for the finals

Arthur Cabral put the hosts ahead after 25 minutes with a header. It was his seventh goal in the competition this season.

Andy Diouf equalized for Basel after the 71st minute with a shot from just outside the box and Amdouni silenced the Italian fans in three minutes of extra time with the winner.

The return leg will be played next Thursday.

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