LEVERKUSEN: Bayer Leverkusen scored twice in the last 10 minutes to break West Ham’s resistance and take the advantage after the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Jonas Hofmann fired through a crowd of bodies for Xabi Alonso’s side after the visitors struggled to clear a corner with seven minutes remaining.

Victor Boniface then doubled the lead in the first minute of injury time with a well-directed header from Hofmann’s cross.

Alonso’s hosts dominated possession but were largely frustrated by a superbly organised Hammers defence until Hofmann’s late intervention.

The visitors showed great discipline to limit Leverkusen’s chances for much of the game while also offering a threat on the counter through the pace and power of Michail Antonio.

Antonio created arguably the best opportunity of the first half as he broke down the left and squared for Mohammed Kudus, but the Ghana winger’s shot was straight at Leverkusen goalkeeper Matej Kovar.

West Ham did need a couple of very smart saves from Lukasz Fabianski to keep Leverkusen at bay for as long as they did.

The 38-year-old keeper got down well to deny Patrick Schick in the first half before leaping to tip the striker’s header over the bar in the second when he looked to have been wrong-footed.

Hofmann finally found a way past Fabianski and when Boniface nodded in the second, Leverkusen were assured of victory to stretch their unbeaten run to 42 matches.

The German top-flight leaders have made late goals a habit this season and scored twice deep into stoppage time to beat Qarabag in the last 16.

This wasn’t quite as dramatic but they were still made to wait by a stubborn West Ham side.

Despite that, though, Leverkusen never showed any sort of panic as they attacked the Hammers relentlessly, looking for any space to exploit around the penalty area.

As it was, it took two set-pieces break down the visitors, with Hofmann shinning a volley through a crowded penalty area after the initial ball in was not cleared.

He then provided the cross following a short corner with Boniface rising highest at the back post to head home his 17th goal of the season.

The job is not done for Alonso’s team but they know how to win – and with a healthy advantage going into the second leg, they will be confident of advancing to the semi-finals.

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