West Ham secure semi-final comeback against AZ! Michail Antonio scores winner in Conference League first leg after Declan Rice's lobbed cross creates danger
- Hammers quiet early on and trailed 1-0
- Bowen felled for Benrahma penalty
- Antonio completes comeback to boost final hopes
TELL ME MORE: Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio scored second-half goals to secure the win, after Tijjani Reijnders's fierce first-half drive had silenced the London Stadium crowd.
Alkmaar were impressive for long periods, especially in the first half, but the Hammers offered much more intensity after the break. Jarrod Bowen was clattered in the box by Mat Ryan, which gave Benrahma the chance to level from the penalty spot on 67 minutes. Soon after, Antonio secured a vital lead for David Moyes' side going into the second leg, bundling home amid a melee in the box caused by Declan Rice's cross.
🏆 TOP STORY: Bellingham accepts Madrid contract
📣 HAVE YOUR SAY: Inter have a chance at UCL glory
🚨 MUST READ: Mou to PSG - an imminent disaster
THE MVP: Kudos to the Alkmaar midfield of Reijnders and Jordy Clasie, who both produced composed performances to frustrate West Ham for long periods. But Benrahma was always the spark for the Premier League club, proving a menace on the left flank and coolly dispatching the spot-kick to equalise.
THE BIG LOSER: Rice did not look himself early on, but then turned it on in the second half when it mattered and his early jitters were soon forgotten. Former Brighton and Arsenal goalkeeper Ryan needlessly took out Bowen to gift West Ham the chance to level and was caught on his heels for the Antonio goal.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? The sides now head to the Netherlands with the tie intriguingly poised. With Basel beating Fiorentina 2-1 in the other semi-final first leg, it's all to play for in both games and the identity of the finalists are still anyone's guess.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐