The Hammers saw their hopes of European glory brought to an end by Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, with Rafael Borre scoring the only goal of the second leg to ensure the German side will meet Rangers in the Europa League final in Seville
Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Unhappy Declan Rice claimed referee Jesus Gil was “against” West Ham following the Irons’ Europa League semi-final exit at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg at the London Stadium, the Hammers knew only a win would suffice in Germany to reach the final in Seville later this month.
But after a bright start in Frankfurt, their task was made more difficult with Aaron Cresswell’s 19th minute dismissal, the left-back shown a straight red card for the second time in the knockout stages. And when Rafael Borre gave Frankfurt a 1-0 victory on the night and 3-1 aggregate success, their race was run.
Hammers captain Rice had no qualms with Cresswell’s early exit – upgraded from an initial yellow card after VAR intervention – but was far from impressed with some of the other officiating at the Deutsche Bank Park.
“The sending off was probably a sending off but some of the other decisions were poor tonight,” Rice told BT Sport. “The ref seemed to make every decision go for them. “When you have someone against you, you can not do much.”
On the Hammers run to the Europa League final four, Rice added: “We are gutted in there, we have come so far as a group. We are not the biggest of squads, to keep playing week in, week out over 50 games, after last year.
“I am proud as well, to go down to 10 men and put in that shift. Many teams will go away and lose three or four. To still try to get forward with a man less emphasizing everything that West Ham is about. We will fight to the end. So gutted but proud of everyone. ”
He continued: “A red card is always going to make it a mountain to climb. We had genuine belief that over two legs they weren’t going to beat us. Of course they are a good side but no way are they better than what Sevilla or Lyon were. Maybe we played a team who play similar to us and it caught us out in the end.
“The first goal killed the atmosphere in the first game and it is a mountain to climb from there. We have come so far, nobody expected West Ham to be here. The boys went out on a high even though we lost.
Hammers boss David Moyes was sent off during the second period and later apologized for kicking a ball at a ball boy. Moyes was sent from the touchline with 12 minutes remaining for angrily booting the ball back towards the ball boy who had retrieved it.
The Scot was critical of the Frankfurt coaching staff for their conduct following the initial decision to show Cresswell a yellow card, before a VAR check condemned him to a second red card in three European appearances.
“I thought it was not great officiating tonight, but I think Aaron’s given the referee a decision to make,” added Moyes.
“I was more disappointed with the bench of Eintracht Frankfurt. You do not react in that way. Maybe that’s what we need to do. We do it by Queensbury rules. And it comes back to haunt you. ”
Moyes would also insist that he believes England star Rice will still be at the London Stadium next season. Asked about a potential move for the man who is set to become club captain following Mark Noble’s retirement this summer, he added: “No I do not think so. I think we are a strong team and he has a contract for three years. ”