Ever been on a roller coaster and half way through you start to question its safety but you cannot get off ? Welcome to last night at the OS, for our game against Lyonnais.
On the way to the ground, the atmosphere was a little flat compared to Sevilla. But still stupidly busy. Over an hour before kick off, the main outside concourse was squeezing room only.
Declan led us out as the 3rd West Ham captain ever to lead a team out at this stage of a Euro Tournament, and we should have fancied ourselves against a team 9th in their league. The warning signs were there however against Everton, a game which we got over the line but had to work.
With Lanzini out suspended (concussed ?) Benrahma made up the usual 11. As did Fredericks at right back, presumably because Johnson was still feeling the knock he took for England ? Or is Ryan being preferred again ? I suppose we will find out at Brentford this Sunday.
The game was pretty flat as well to begin with, and once again , same as Seville, the lower tier standing in 132 caused all sorts of problems with us (232) in the front of the upper tier. People were complaining to no avail, and tempers raised, but the stewards were not remotely interested. Personally I only get annoyed if someone stands in front of me at the cinema, and my view wasn’t that obstructed. But I understand some (including the 6 year old lad in the row in front of me) , can’t see and it’s not right. But if you are in the back row of the lower tier and everyone is standing, what do you do ? And if the employees of the stadium aren’t interested, why should the daytrippers be bothered.
However the stewards did get interested when what I can only call (judging by the amount of people who were “asked to leave” ) a massive fight broke out in 131 half way through the half. And we go into the break 0-0. Oh no we don’t. Just before half time, Cresswell was sent off for no reason at all. He put a hand on NDombele which wouldn’t have knocked over the aforementioned 6 year old. The ref has a checkered history regarding bent behavior, has already been called out for seemingly dodgy behavior this season and decided a straight red was the order of the day. Now, stopping a goal scoring opportunity is a red. Running away from the goal is not a goal scoring opportunity.
Second half was real backs to the wall stuff. Lyon to their credit can move the ball around and their right winger was having a field day. Johnson replaced Benrahma for Cresswell, and did his best. We had 3 attacks of note. One of which led to some scruffy defending, which saw Bowen open the scoring. We have missed this lad, and once again he does the business. We then had another chance about 3 minutes later when Bowen put a ball in on the break to a rampaging Antonio, who then made a complete mess of it, and I’m ashamed to say, the 6 year old may have learned some new vocabulary.
The last decent chance we had was interrupted by our second pitch invader of the evening, a life ban is not enough for him . Chances of being West Ham…..0. Twitter rumor mill puts him at Chelsea but who really knows ?
In between all of this Lyon got their equaliser from Areola palming a ball well wide but it got picked up by their other winger who put it in square to make an easy tap in for Lyon via their Spurs loanee (grrr) . We could have thrown it away with some nice judo throws in and around the box from Zuma and Fredericks in the time added on (8 minutes !) , but managed to keep it out.
So we take a draw across the Channel and hopefully we can keep 11 on the pitch, and put this tie to bed. The other tie is also open with Barca and Frankfurt also drawing.
One other football observation. Our midfield to a man (Rice, Benrahma, Soucek and Fornals) looked very out of sorts. Was it the formation of the opposition or just tiredness? Rice was quite sloppy in places, but he had to not get a yellow to be available next week, so that may have contributed.
Late entry to MOTM. Him and Zuma were excellent all night, but Dawson taking names in the last 2 minutes was a sight to behold, so well done Big Daws !