Kurt Zouma

Zouma: We weren’t good enough

Captain Kurt Zouma admitted there is plenty of room for improvement following West Ham United’s UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg defeat against SC Freiburg in Germany.

Substitute Michael Gregoritsch sealed a 1-0 win for the hosts with a close-range finish nine minutes before time, after a largely even clash at the Stadion am Wolfswinkel that saw Dinos Mavropanos hit the post for the Hammers.

Despite a handful of chances falling the way of the visitors, particularly in the second half, Zouma acknowledged that he and his teammates will have to do better in the return leg if they are to progress to the last eight of a European competition for the third season running.

There’s still everything to play for at 1-0, so we have to digest this one and try to come back stronger
Kurt Zouma

“We’re very disappointed,” the 29-year-old said. “We had a lot of chances to score, but overall we didn’t play very well and they did, and now we have to come from behind.

“I’m not sure what was missing. We knew they were a dangerous team because we played them twice at the group stage, but sometimes you just have days like this.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we were looking for, but there’s still everything to play for at 1-0 so we have to digest this one and try to come back stronger.”

Kurt Zouma leads the Hammers out at Freiburg

Freiburg survived a late, lengthy VAR check for handball at the end of four minutes of added time, that could have presented the Irons with the chance to equalise from the penalty spot.

While Zouma wasn’t interested in dwelling on what might have been, he reserved a mention for the travelling fans, who he hopes will be back cheering the team on at home against Burnley on Sunday, before the second leg of this tie four days later.

Zouma added: “It took the referee a long time to come to the final VAR decision, but it is what it is. We have to accept the result and look at what we did wrong, and we’ll be confident ahead of the next game next week.

“The fans are always right behind us, and hopefully they will be again back at home. We’re looking to continue our recent success in Europe, and hopefully we can get the win we need for them.”