07.03.2024 23:20 h

Freiburg's Gregoritsch strikes late to sink West Ham

A late tap-in from Michael Gregoritsch gave Freiburg a 1-0 victory against West Ham in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday.

Europa Conference League holders West Ham almost took the lead after 65 minutes, but Freiburg goalie Noah Atubolu denied Jarrod Bowen with a superb save.

Gregoritsch scored just 11 minutes after coming on, tapping in from a metre out, his fifth goal in seven Europa League games.

West Ham thought they had a late handball penalty, but Freiburg survived a VAR review to hang on to a slender lead ahead of next week's second leg in London.

Hoping to make the quarter finals of the tournament for the first time, Freiburg came into the game having held Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw at the same venue on Friday.

The teams had already clashed in the group stages, with the English side winning on both occasions.

The hosts started strongly and almost had the lead after 30 seconds. West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal got a last-ditch block on Roland Sallai's attempt, setting the tone for a strong opening period for the hosts.

The visitors had the better of much of the second period, with Konstantinos Mavropanos almost heading past some sleepy Freiburg defending at the far post on the 52-minute mark.

Atubolu leapt to deny Jarrod Bowen on the counter after 65 minutes, the goalie getting an outstretched hand on the England winger's shot.

Freiburg manager Christian Streich, now in his 12th year as head coach after a playing career at the club, brought on striker Gregoritsch in the 70th minute.

The move soon paid dividends, with the Austrian forward in the right place at the right time to tap in a low shot from Sallai with nine minutes remaining.

Freiburg, who were eliminated at this stage by Juventus last season, travel to London next week needing just a draw to progress.