Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 West Ham United
Pre-season match, BayArena, Saturday 5 August 2023, 1.30pm CEST (12.30pm)
A first-half flurry by hosts Bayer Leverkusen saw West Ham United’s pre-season schedule end in a 4-0 defeat in Germany.
The talented Bundesliga side stormed into the lead at BayArena through Jonas Hofmann’s free-kick and a cruelly unfortunate own-goal from defender Thilo Kehrer.
Czech Republic international Tomáš Souček whacked the crossbar with a powerful header but Leverkusen had a third before half-time through striker Victor Boniface’s finish.
Saïd Benrahma went close to reducing the deficit early in the second half, when a quick-fire double effort saw the first saved and second strike the post, but Leverkusen got a fourth as Robert Andrich tucked home a penalty kick on 70 minutes.
Leverkusen had the lead on nine minutes in front of their home supporters. Kurt Zouma fouled Boniface on the edge of the penalty area, resulting in a free-kick. New signing Hofmann struck the ball from 20 yards, finding the net via the far post.
The German outfit continued to pile pressure on the Hammers and found their second just a quarter of the way through the match.
Creative combination play from Amine Adli and Hofmann on the right of the penalty area opened space up, with the winger playing a low ball across the face of goal. Under pressure from the oncoming Boniface, Kehrer had to intercept the ball, but could only turn it into his own net.
Saïd Benrahma tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, as West Ham sought a way back into the fixture. The Algerian’s strong run in possession earned the visitors a corner, from which the Irons almost halved the deficit. Midfielder Souček rattled the cross-bar from Jarrod Bowen’s set-piece.
Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka tested Łukasz Fabiański with a powerful effort but there was little the experienced Pole could do about Leverkusen’s third moments later, as Boniface powerfully struck across goal from a Florian Wirtz lobbed pass.
The difficult nature of the first 45 minutes prompted four substitutions and a change in system for the Hammers by manager David Moyes. Michail Antonio came into the fray for his first pre-season minutes, joining Vladimír Coufal, Nayef Aguerd and Alphonse Areola in starting the second half as the Irons went to a three-man defensive shape.
Goalkeeper Areola was called into action almost immediately, having to get low to deny fellow Frenchman Adli’s low effort.
Benrahma was desperately unlucky not to reduce the deficit moments later. Receiving the ball from Bowen, the No22 saw an initial effort saved. Reacting quickly, his trickling follow-up could only find the base of the post.
Leverkusen’s first two substitutions, just after the hour mark, saw Xabi Alonso’s side match the visitors in terms of formation.
The hosts would find a fourth with 20 minutes remaining. Aguerd’s sliding challenge inside the area was deemed to have been a foul on striker Boniface, with a penalty awarded. Up stepped substitute Andrich, who slotted in for the Bundesliga side.
Maxwel Cornet would go close for the Hammers with a curling free-kick, but the Ivorian could not find the net and at least add a consolation on a frustrating afternoon for the Hammers in Germany.
Bayer Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c), Frimpong, Tapsoda, Tah, Arthur, Palacios (Andrich 62), Xhaka (Puerta 88), Hofmann (Kossounou 62), Wirtz (Amiri 84), Adli (Mbamba 88), Boniface (Hložek 78)
Subs not used: Lomb (GK), Pentz (GK), Fosu-Mensah, Monamay, Munz, Aourir
Goals: Hofmann 9, Kehrer (OG) 24, Boniface 38, Andrich (p) 70,
West Ham United: Fabiański (Areola 46), Kehrer, Zouma (Coufal 46), Ogbonna ©, Emerson (Johnson 70), Souček, Downes (Coventry 75), Paquetá (Aguerd 46), Benrahma (Fornals 70), Bowen (Cornet 70), Mubama (Antonio 46)
Subs not used: Anang (GK), Ings
Booked: Zouma, Paquetá, Coventry