Andreas Pereira at the double as Fulham dent West Ham’s hopes of European return

By Sports Desk April 14, 2024

West Ham’s European hopes suffered a second blow in the space of four days after a meek 2-0 home defeat by Fulham.

The Hammers were beaten 2-0 by Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday, leaving them with a mountain to climb in the return match.

They then blew the chance to climb up to sixth place in the Premier League, and right back into the European shake-up, after two Andreas Pereira goals secured a first win in four for Fulham.

It was the first time the Cottagers had won away to West Ham since 2001 and having dominated the reverse fixture 5-0 in December, they completed a league double over their London rivals for the first time since 1966.

Leverkusen will not be quaking in their boots on the evidence of this timid display.

Yet West Ham should have gone ahead in the opening moments when Lucas Paqueta’s ball over the top saw right-back Vladimir Coufal burst into the area.

His initial effort was repelled by Bernd Leno and when the ball rebounded to the feet of Michail Antonio, the striker blazed over from eight yards.

Mohammed Kudus then curled wide narrowly wide before the lively Paqueta, who is suspended against Leverkusen on Thursday night, hit the side-netting.

But despite their bright start, West Ham conceded to Fulham’s first attack after nine minutes, a goal which would have had manager David Moyes tearing his hair out.

Konstantinos Mavropanos tried to bring down a deep cross from Alex Iwobi but succeeded only in gifting the ball to Pereira, who had been given a free run by Nayef Aguerd.

The Brazilian had the simple task of knocking the ball past Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski and finishing into an empty net.

Pereira almost had a second moments later when he slid in to meet Willian’s inviting cross, but he guided it wide.

Coufal has yet to score for West Ham since joining three and a half years ago, and he illustrated why when he crashed a good opportunity wide from Paqueta’s cross.

After the break Fabianski made a big save to tip Iwobi’s shot wide, but he was powerless to prevent Pereira doubling the lead after 72 minutes.

Paqueta was robbed in midfield by Joao Palhinha and Pereira laid the ball off to Rodrigo Muniz. He played in Iwobi, who burst forward before crossing for Pereira to apply another simple finish.

A damaging defeat for the Hammers had a sad postscript when teenage substitute George Earthy had to be carried off on a stretcher after suffering a serious head injury in a collision with team-mate Edson Alvarez, just two minutes into his Premier League debut.

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