Fabiański: There are plenty of positives and lots to build on

Łukasz Fabiański has hailed the quality of his side's performance against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday and believes they can take plenty of positives into their all-important Premier League run-in as they seek a fourth consecutive season of European football. 

The former Poland international was one of the standout stars in last week’s first leg at the BayArena, making a total of nine saves, though had a far quieter Thursday night as West Ham United put in a dominant performance in front of a boisterous London Stadium crowd. 

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, the Hammers came out of the blocks flying against the recently-crowned Bundesliga champions, and were rewarded after 13 minutes when Michail Antonio’s header inspired hopes of a remarkable turnaround.

However, chances came and went for the hosts and, as the game became stretched throughout an end-to-end final ten minutes, the visitors were able to seal their place in the semi-finals courtesy of Jeremie Frimpong's deflected strike. 

Fabiański, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Thursday, admitted he couldn’t have marked the occasion in a much better game despite the result, and believes it was a special night for the Club. 

There is a little bit of disappointment, but we can be very proud with how we have gone out, the way we performed and played from the very first minute
Łukasz Fabiański

“I think we gave a lot into the game. From the first minute we tried to put them under pressure, and I think it really worked for us as we played an amazing game for most of it,” said a proud Fabiański. 

“Obviously in the end they made some changes, but we kept on pushing and pushing and our energy levels dropped down a little bit.  They started to control the game a little bit better in terms of possession [after half-time]. I still thought we did enough to win the game or even to score more goals, and I think we can be very proud of our performance tonight. 

"There is a little bit of disappointment, but we can be very proud with how we have gone out, the way we performed and played from the very first minute. They are a very good side, a very good team but I think we put in a very strong performance that we can be very proud of. 

“When you create chances, you always feel as if it can be a key moment. We had some really good chances, even after we scored the goal, but that’s football. We continued to push even after those missed chances and wanted to get that second goal. The second half was a bit different as we put so much in from a physical point of view in the first. 

“We had a plan to try and make the game more heated, for the fans to get involved and to generate an atmosphere which would add extra pressure onto the opposition. We tried to manage things not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well and I think we did a pretty good job. 

"The referee had a tricky game to control and there were some difficult decisions for him, but I think in the end it was a fair game and there wasn’t really anything nasty happening.

"There was some heat of the moment incidents due to the magnitude of the game, which always adds to the way you react. It all finished with respect at the end and both teams had it for each other.

“We were aware [of their late threats] but I wouldn’t say they were stronger than us in the last ten minutes, it was just the way that the game naturally evolved as we were trying to chase a second goal. I believe we had a really good game plan coming into the last minutes of the game."

Łukasz Fabiański

Fabiański, who made his 198th appearance for the Hammers on Thursday night, reflected on his personal journey, while admitting it's a great achievement for the Hammers to reach a third consecutive European quarter-final. 

“I enjoyed it. I am already 39 years-old and to be playing in the quarter-finals [of the UEFA Europa League] at home in front of a big crowd at a great Club, I wouldn’t have dreamed of any other way of celebrating my birthday," the No1 continued. "I’m proud of myself and the team even though we didn’t go through to the next round, and it was a really beautiful night for us and the Club. 

“I think it’s something special for us [reaching three consecutive quarter-finals on the European stage]. We have the experience of being in Europe for three years and have five games left in the Premier League, where we are in a good position to be able to play in Europe again next season. It’s one of the targets, along with building on the performance tonight as I think it was really good. This [performance] will help us with confidence when it comes to paying the remaining games."