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West Ham fall to late defeat against Freiburg, need a big performance next week

West Ham United fans left Freiburg feeling frustrated after a late sucker punch handed the home side a narrow 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie.

David Moyes opted for a pragmatic approach, sticking with his trusty cup goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and deploying a cautious strategy against a Freiburg side fresh off a morale-boosting draw against Bayern Munich.

This tactic seemed to work initially, with the Hammers keeping the lively Freiburg attack at bay in the first half. Unfortunately, our own attacking efforts were equally blunt, with Jarrod Bowen’s wayward effort our only real chance of note.

A glimmer of hope emerged after the break. A dangerous Konstantinos Mavropanos header rattled the post, momentarily igniting belief in a potential away goal.

However, the ghosts of past struggles in Germany (only one win in five previous visits) seemed to resurface, and the Hammers retreated into their shell once more.

This conservative approach proved costly. With time running out, Freiburg substitute Roland Sallai unleashed a hopeful shot that deflected kindly into the path of Michael Gregoritsch.

The unmarked striker made no mistake, tapping in the winner to leave Moyes’ men with an uphill battle in the return leg at London Stadium.

A controversial moment in the dying seconds added salt to the wound. A handball shout against Noah Weisshaupt went to VAR, with a lengthy review only to uphold the referee’s initial decision – no penalty.

The final whistle blew, leaving the bitter taste of defeat in the mouth of the travelling West Ham faithful.

We may only be halfway into the clash, but we already have a mountain to climb if we’re to clinch a place in the quarter-finals.

Moyes’ men will need to rediscover their attacking prowess and show more fight on home soil to overturn this deficit and progress to the Europa League last eight.

Here’s hoping the London Stadium faithful can roar the Hammers back into contention next week.

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