Jarrod Bowen

Bowen: There’s still lots of confidence in this group

As the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg clock ticked into its 92nd minute, 60,000 fans held their breath.

Time stood still and Jarrod Bowen, leaping skywards to somehow summon the energy and athleticism to get his left boot higher than other players’ heads, made the sweetest of connections with an overhead kick.

It was a tremendous effort – but sadly one which, despite striking the crossbar, did not bounce down on the right side of the goal line.

It was the second time Bowen had hit the woodwork during the course of the 90 minutes, having earlier seen a low shot deflected onto the post by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp's boot.

But the moment was perhaps a microcosm of West Ham United’s first-leg efforts against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday evening, which ultimately ended in a 2-1 defeat – but with all still to play for in Germany next week.

"I thought I had scored the first one, and it came off the keeper’s ankle and hit the post, and the one at the end I just thought I’d hit it and see what happens,” Bowen told BT Sport at full-time. 

“Unfortunately, maybe on another day it goes in, but it didn’t. We’ve got to face the facts: we’re 2-1 down going into the return leg, but there’s still lots of confidence in this group.”

Bowen's overhead kick

The Hammers got off to the worst possible start on Thursday evening, conceding a goal inside 50 seconds when Ansgar Knauff snuck in unmarked at the back post to head home a delicate cross.

But moments after Bowen had struck the woodwork for the first time, Manuel Lanzini’s chipped free-kick was headed back across goal by Kurt Zouma for Michail Antonio to turn home the equaliser.

The Hammers generally had the better of the play thereafter in east London but were unable to match Frankfurt’s efficiency in front of goal, Daichi Kamada turning home a rebound early in the second half after Alphonse Areola had saved Djibril Sow’s low effort.

Bowen admitted: "Obviously it's not what you want to do, concede a goal that early on, but the reaction from the fans, and the noise they created, and us getting back into the game…

“Yes, we went a goal behind, but I thought we dominated and created chances. They're a good team and scored two good goals.

"He hasn’t been scoring but Antonio's hold-up play has been unbelievable. He's horrible to play against, I’m sure if you asked any defender, and to get a goal tonight, I was buzzing for him. Hopefully it gives him a bit of confidence and he goes on a run.

"When we went to 1-1, we had the chance to go and get another goal, but we didn't. They're a top side. 

“We're disappointed. We had plenty of chances. We hit the bar and we hit the post twice, and it didn’t go in.

“We didn't want to lose at home, but we've shown we can go away and get a result, so now it's about doing that and being ready to go again.”

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