Moyes hails ‘brilliant’ West Ham as ‘disgrace’ comments put to one side by Alonso

Matt Stead
Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso and West Ham coach David Moyes
Xabi Alonso and David Moyes will let bygones be bygones

Xabi Alonso and David Moyes moved past the ‘disgrace’ of their Europa League quarter-final first leg to discuss the tactics which unfolded in Germany.

Leverkusen secured a 2-0 first-leg lead at the BayArena through late goals from Jonas Hoffman and Victor Boniface.

The hosts had 33 shots to West Ham’s one but had to rely on the two substitutes to find the breakthrough against a stubborn West Ham defence.

Alonso, whose Leverkusen side remain unbeaten this season and in with a chance of winning the Europa League, Bundesliga and German Cup, said: “We are pleased with both the outcome and the team’s performance.

“Despite the challenges of breaking down their deep defence, our bench players made significant contributions when it mattered most,” he added.

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“It wasn’t easy. They were very deep and always had a lot of players in the penalty area. We waited for our moment – and it came, albeit late.”

Alonso also predicted that Moyes might change his approach in the next game.

“We expect a shift in strategy from West Ham in the upcoming match. With nothing to lose, they will likely adopt a more aggressive stance. Nevertheless, we will be prepared to compete and secure our place in the semi-finals.”

Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, who has been integral to Leverkusen’s rise this season, told TNT Sports: “We believe in ourselves that we have the quality to score in every minute we can.

“Against teams like this and the others who come to the BayArena, it is always difficult to find space because they sit so deep,” he said.

Moyes weighed in, saying West Ham “have half a chance in the second leg but “it’s going to take some performance” in London next Thursday.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Let’s try to get one and then see if we can get two. We’ll pick ourselves up for next week and hopefully get the crowd behind us.

“We’d like to have played more attacking. The players did a brilliant job with the structure. But we played against a Champions League side and we’re not quite at that level.

“We have to recognise what we’re playing against. We’ll have to do exceptionally well to get that result.”

The Hammers will have to do it without Lucas Paqueta, who was booked for a tackle on Amine Adli and will miss the second leg due to suspension.

That created quite the drama between Alonso and Moyes, who branded the actions of the Leverkusen coaching team a “disgrace”.

“Paqueta will be a huge miss but I thought their bench was a disgrace,” said Moyes.

“He [the referee] got surrounded. I thought it was disgraceful and was really disappointing. You should let the referee make the decision and not the way they reacted to the incident.

“I thought it was a rule all the way through. We would not all run off and surround him. It was a poor thing for them to do and they are a good side and they didn’t need to react like that.”