LONDON: Eintracht Frankfurt are a step away from reaching their first European competition final in more than 40 years after beating West Ham 2-1 in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday.
The German team had knocked out Barcelona in the quarterfinals and quickly shocked West Ham when Ansgar Knauff scored 51 seconds after kickoff at the London Stadium.
Both clubs are bidding to reach what would be their biggest match in decades — Frankfurt’s last final came when they won the Europa League predecessor UEFA Cup in 1980, and West Ham’s last game of that stature was the 1976 Cup Winner’s Cup final.
An all-German final in the second-tier European competition is a possibility after Leipzig scored late to defeat Rangers 1-0 at home in the other semifinal match.
Leipzig had beaten Atalanta to reach this stage and are aiming for their first-ever European final. Both second legs are next week with Frankfurt and Rangers hosting.
Frankfurt had a dream start in London.
The visitors got the ball for the first time with West Ham defense letting Rafael Borré in the area to cross for Knauff at the far post to stun the hosts within the opening minute.
It was Knauff’s second goal in the competition this season after netting in the 1-1 draw in the first leg against Barcelona.
Michail Antonio, who returned to the starting lineup after being rested by manager David Moyes in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea, canceled out the early lead. Kurt Zouma headed a cross off Manuel Lanzini’s free kick for diving Antonio to equalize 20 minutes after the opening goal.
Frankfurt were ahead again early in the second half after West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola parried Djibril Sow’s shot and Daichi Kamada scored the winner on a rebound.
Leipzig had to wait till the 85th minute to break the deadlock.
With their three-man attack failing to hit the target, it was their Spanish defender Angeliño who volleyed home off a corner kick for Leipzig.
Rangers are trying to reach their first European final since 2008.