By Andy Sims, PA, Frankfurt
Vladimir Coufal admitted “almost everything” went wrong as West Ham’s dreams of winning the Europa League were ended by Eintracht Frankfurt.
But the Hammers’ no-nonsense right-back refused to blame fellow defender Aaron Cresswell for the red card which swung the semi-final firmly in favour of the Germans.
Cresswell’s sending-off after 19 minutes, for pulling down forward Jens Hauge, proved the turning point with Frankfurt grabbing the only goal of the night through Rafael Santos Borre, and sealing a 3-1 aggregate win, just five minutes later.
Czech Republic international Coufal said: “Almost everything went wrong. It completely changed our game plan. It was difficult for us.
“Unfortunately, we also conceded the first goal before the end of the first half. We were not in a comfortable position for the second half but we tried to do our maximum – but for Frankfurt it was comfortable to play with one player more and they kept the ball.
“They played like a big team. They beat us. They deserve to go to the final a bit more and we wish them good luck for the final.
“I haven’t seen the (red card) situation in slow motion. I cannot judge exactly what happened, but what do you want me to say?
“Of course he is disappointed. He helped us in many games, but for sure it wasn’t just his mistake. We could have covered him and we win and lose together, so that’s nothing to judge for him.”
West Ham’s uplifting European adventure ultimately ended on a sour note after manager David Moyes was sent from the touchline for angrily booting the ball back towards a ball boy who had retrieved it.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 5, 2022
Their Champions League ambitions may now be over but the Hammers still have three Premier League matches remaining, starting at Norwich on Sunday, as they bid to qualify for some form of European competition again next season.
“Everybody knows it is impossible for us to get a Champions League spot now in the Premier League, this was a big chance for us to play Champions League next year,” added Coufal.
“Unfortunately we gave this opportunity to Frankfurt. We need to live with this. We need to be focused until the end of the season and win as many games as we can.
“We still want European football. We will travel to Norwich and we need to win, and that’s all.
“In terms of what was said in the changing room, what can you say after a loss in a semi-final? Every head is down and we are trying to find some positives on our way, that’s all.”