Michail Antonio slams officials after West Ham fall to Europa League exit: 'Playing against 14'

Michail Antonio was left hugely frustrated (John Walton/PA Wire)
Michail Antonio was left hugely frustrated (John Walton/PA Wire)

Michail Antonio felt West Ham were “playing against 14”, as he hit out at the officiating after the club’s Europa League quarter-final exit.

The Hammers had it all to do in the second leg against Bayer Leverkusen at the London Stadium, after a 2-0 defeat in Germany, against a side who since that match had sealed the Bundesliga title.

David Moyes’ side were hugely impressive, though, and threatened a shock comeback when Antonio headed the hosts in front in the early stages. Jarrod Bowen could not take a big chance to double the lead on the night soon after, with Leverkusen fortunate to make it to the break with their aggregate lead intact.

West Ham tired after the break and became increasingly frustrated, with Antonio going over several times and seeing his appeals waved away by the referee. Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Kurt Zouma were all shown yellow cards for dissent, and Antonio voiced his anger after the match, as Jeremie Frimpong’s late goal earned Leverkusen a 3-1 aggregate victory.

"It doesn't feel like you're playing against 11 men, it feels like you're playing against 14 including the two linos,” he told TNT Sports.

West Ham threatened a famous European comeback (Getty Images)
West Ham threatened a famous European comeback (Getty Images)

“It's just one of those things where you have to keep pushing, make decisions go your way and remain professional. We're very proud to have achieved what we have in Europe over the past three seasons. It's been unbelievable."

Moyes would not initially comment on the officiating in his post-match press conference, but asked if he would agree it was poor, he responded: "Yes, I would, definitely."

West Ham managed just one shot in the first leg in Germany, compared to the 33 efforts Leverkusen produced, but they were markedly improved in front of a raucous London Stadium crowd.

The Bundesliga side were minutes away from their first defeat of the season, having been rattled, particularly in the first-half, by a front-footed West Ham performance.

“Last week we gave them a bit too much respect, but this week we showed them what we can do,” Antonio said.

“The pressing got a bit less towards the end of the match. Bayer Leverkusen are a quality team and they showed that last week, but (today) we made it more of an even game.

“But just disappointed with how we played last week because we gave them too much respect and the two-goal deficit was hard to get back this week."