Tomas Soucek urges ‘better team’ West Ham to rise to Europa League challenge after Frankfurt loss

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 (IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)
(IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

Tomas Soucek says next week’s Europa League semi-final second leg will be the biggest game in the lives of the West Ham squad — and has challenged them to rise to the occasion.

The Hammers head to Germany trailing by a goal, following Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 win at the London Stadium on Thursday night.

West Ham had a nightmare start to their big night, going behind after just 48 seconds, when Ansgar Knauff headed home. Michail Antonio equalised in the first half, but another slow start after the break allowed Daichi Kamada to score the winner.

Manager David Moyes hit out at a lack of quality from his players, but Soucek insists the Hammers are a better side than Frankfurt — and must show it next Thursday.

“I think for many players, the second leg will be one of the biggest games of their lives, because we are just one step from the final,” said the Czech. “But we are quite confident and also we have good experiences from many games in the Premier League. We have to win there, but we also need to win from the first minute.

“I think that we are the better team — we just need to score goals.

“But it’s still all to play for, and we want to be in the final. But we need to be ready for the first chances and score enough to go through.”

West Ham could well have come away on level terms. Jarrod Bowen hit the woodwork twice: the first, a low effort which took a touch off Kevin Trapp’s boot before hitting the upright; the second, an injury-time overhead kick which crashed against the bar.

Despite those chances, Moyes suggested this may have been a step too far for his group. “I don’t know if it is the level of the game going up and we don’t have the quality required to be at this level at times,” said the Hammers boss. “We have [the quality] at times but I didn’t think we showed that. We needed to play better and we weren’t able to do so.”

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