West Ham escape with draw away at Gent in Europa Conference League as VAR denies Hammers twice
West Ham survived with a 1-1 draw against Gent in their Europa Conference League quarter-final first leg tie in Belgium.
The Hammers were hardly convincing throughout the 90 minutes, but had two major decisions go against them.
The Belgian minnows showed they are no pushovers with some attractive football and brilliant play.
And with West Ham toiling in the Premier League and relegation a real possibility, the European Conference League is a chance to refresh themselves.
But their attacking troubles followed them over the Channel as they left the Ghelamco Arena with a hard-fought draw.
Despite their woes, it was the away side that actually took the lead through Danny Ings, who netted his first European goal in the process.
A quick throw-in caught out the Gent defence as Jarrod Bowen squared the ball for the former Aston Villa striker to tap home an easy goal.
Speaking live on talkSPORT 2, Matt Holland said of his strike: “He’s hardly had a kick, he’s hardly had a touch.
“He has a simple of tapping in from two yards.
“It is great work from West Ham, they take the throw-in quickly, into Bowen, he feeds Ings inside the box.”
Nayef Aguerd had a goal ruled out before Ings’ opener after a goalkeeping mistake from Davy Roef when he spilt the ball right in front of the defender, who was correctly adjudged by VAR to have nudged it over the goal line with his hand.
But after the break, Gent came back and put on a show for their fans and got what they deserved when Hugo Cuypers scored his 25th goal of the season.
Holland stated: “On the balance of play, you can’t say they haven’t deserved it.
“hey have got themselves into some great areas and not always chosen the right option.
“Talked about the front two needing better service, this time they get it. The first ball is in to Orban, clever little flick.
“The second ball is into Hugo Cuypers, he still has a lot to do. He’s faced up by Ben Johnson.
“Takes it on his right foot, cuts it back on his left and then he drills it past Areola. It really is excellent football from the home side.”
Gent continued to dominate until the final minutes with David Moyes bellowing from the touchline, but they could not grab an important winner.
There was late drama when Kamil Piatkowski was sent off for a last-man challenge on Lucas Paqueta.
But VAR told referee Tasos Sidiropoulos to consult the monitor, who correctly rescinded the red card after judging he had in fact made contact with the ball.
It means that West Ham will have the home advantage when the two sides meet again next week at the London Stadium.
However, they will have to perform better to stand a chance of winning the competition this season.
Holland has tipped the east London outfit to emerge victorious, as he stated following the full-time whistle: “West Ham will be absolutely delighted with a draw.
“They will be favourites to go through at the London Stadium. They haven’t played particularly well.”
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