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Freiburg 1-0 West Ham – Hammers Suffer Controversial Defeat As Hosts Claim Late Uefa Europa League Victory

West Ham Europa League

It was always a tense and incredibly tight UEFA Europa League last 16 first-leg clash as Freiburg and West Ham battled away at Europa-Park Stadion. The hosts finally managed to grab what proved to be the winning goal in the 81st minute, but then followed a huge controversy as the referee decided not to award a VAR penalty to the visitors that was expected by the fans and the players.

Freiburg take a lead into the second leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 clash against West Ham, after surviving a last-minute VAR penalty appeal from the Premier League outfit.
The Bundesliga side did not look like scoring for most of the game, but The Hammers switched off in the 81st minute allowing Roland Sallai space to turn the ball towards goal and substitute Michael Gregoritsch to tap home.
There was little goalmouth action during the game, but West Ham looked the more dominant as the game wore on and Noah Atubolu was called upon to make a fine save to deny Jarrod Bowen in the second half.

The drama came five minutes into injury time when Noah Weisshaupt inadvertently handled in the box.
With his hand placed over his head when Tomas Soucek deflected a ball into his path, a penalty was expected when the referee consulted the sideline video screen, but instead he decided against awarding a spot kick.
The Hammers host Freiburg in the second leg next week.

TALKING POINT – REFEREE DECISION UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT INCONSISTENT WITH TREND

The match as a whole is not particularly worth reflecting on, West Ham looked like they had the game at their mercy with the Bundesliga side offering very little threat in the second half, until the goal came. In the sense that The Hammers did not go for victory when it looked there for the taking they will feel responsible for the result. However, this is likely to be trumped by anger at the penalty call. There would have been sympathy for Noah Weisshaupt, who did not mean to handle and did not even see the ball until it struck his arm, but any onlooker when seeing the referee head to the video screen expected a spot kick to be given.