Jarrod Bowen was on target but 10-man West Ham were ultimately left frustrated after securing a 1-1 draw at home to Lyon in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
The Hammers had high hopes of building a lead to take to France but they were dealt a huge blow on the stroke of half time when Aaron Cresswell was adjudged to have pulled back Moussa Dembele as he charged through on goal.
The referee produced a straight red card despite what appeared to be minimal contact and Dembele’s cheeky wink of approval.
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It was an explosive conclusion to a drab opening period where the visitors probed without creating much of note while Said Benrahma had the home side’s best effort on the counter attack.
The Hammers adjusted their game-plan at the interval and deservedly stole in front on 52 minutes when Bowen pounced on Pablo Fornals’ deflected pass to fire home.
Lyon had lacked imagination in the final third but pulled level out of the blue on 66 minutes when on-loan Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele tapped home from close-range.
The French side continued to dominate as they tried to make their one-man advantage count but could not find a way through West Ham’s stubborn rearguard.
The Hammers will now regroup for their visit to Brentford on Sunday ahead of the second leg in France on April 14. Lyon travel to Strasbourg.
Talking Point - Red card overshadows West Ham's big night
Frustration, anger, disappointment – but pride? You are quite possibly feeling all four if you’re a West Ham fan having seen a first European quarter-final in 41 years (Intertoto Cup aside) slightly marred by one unfortunate moment. It was proving to be a cagey affair and a match the Irons were growing into but there’s no doubt the sending off stopped them from having a realistic chance of building a first-leg lead.
The referee Felix Zwayer had already incurred the wrath of the home support by repeatedly halting play while Lyon players threw themselves to the floor for minimal contact. It was a strange tactic from the visitors given they were controlling much of the play and a bizarrely fussy performance from the referee that did not go unnoticed by pundits and fans on social media.
Boss David Moyes was also booked as he remonstrated with the official heading towards the tunnel at the interval, but to his credit, he reorganised his team brilliantly at the break and but for one lapse they could have nicked the 1-0 win. The Premier League side produced a mature, defensively resolute second-half showing and will feel they can still win this tie in France next week - but for now expect the post-match discussion to centre around that harsh red-card decision.
Man of the match - Craig Dawson (West Ham)
The defender epitomised West Ham’s defensive resilience. A determined moment in stoppage time summed up his overall display as he threw his body into a series of 50-50 challenges to repel another Lyon attack. He’ll need to produce more of the same in France but expect these Hammers players to give it everything to make the last four and continue their European adventure.
WEST HAM: Areola 8, Fredericks 8, Dawson 8*, Zouma 8, Cresswell 6, Soucek 8, Rice 8, Fornals 8, Bowen 8, Benrahma 7, Antonio 8. Subs: Johnson 8.
LYON: Lopes 7, Gusto 7, Boateng 6, Lukeba 7, Emerson 7, Aouar 8, Ndombele 8, Mendes 7, Faivre 7, Paqueta 8, Dembele 7. Subs: Tete 7, Toko Ekambi 6, Denayer n/a.
15’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! Benrahma surges free down the left and charges into the area. Lyon can't keep up with him but his shot from a narrow angle is well blocked by Anthony Lopes.
45’ – WEST HAM RED CARD! Cresswell is shown a straight red card for pulling Dembele as he looked to sprint clear into the area. West Ham feel it's harsh and that there was minimal contact. Dembele winks at a team-mate...
52’ – GOAL! – West Ham 1-0 Lyon. The 10 men lead! Bowen turns on to a deflected pass from Fornals and sees his shot flick off a defender and bounce over the 'keeper.
64’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! The Hammers man pinches the ball off Lyon deep inside his own half, bursts past one with a show of speed and strength and then charges down the left. It's a superb solo run and he caps it with devilish cross for Antonio who can't quite connect with the ball as the keeper rushes out.
66’ – GOAL! – West Ham 1-1 Lyon. The on-loan Spurs star, Ndombele tucks home after West Ham failed to deal with Tete's low cross from the right.
Cresswell is the first West Ham United player to be shown a red card in European competition (excluding qualifiers).
Bowen is the first West Ham player to score 10 home goals in a single season in all competitions since Marlon Harewood in 2005-06.
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