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SC Freiburg: Joker Gregoritsch cracks West Ham United – football

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SC Freiburg: Joker Gregoritsch cracks West Ham United – football

SC Freiburg won the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 against West Ham United and has a good chance of reaching the last eight. However, the Hammers almost came back with the last action of the game.

Joker Michael Gregortisch scored the goal of the day for the sports club on Thursday (March 7th, 2024), ensuring the next party evening in the Freiburg Arena after the thrilling victory in the playoffs against RC Lens.

It was the third duel between the opponents this season. The teams had already met in the group phase. In the first leg, the sports club lost 2-1 despite a good performance. The second leg also went to the London team (2-0).

“That gives us courage and self-confidence. But we also know that only one game is over,” said defender Matthias Ginter in an ARD interview after the game. He estimates his chances for the second leg to be “fifty-fifty”. “We will of course try to get to the quarter-finals. But it will be very difficult.”

After the final whistle, Christian Günter gave special praise to the winning goal scorer. “Hats off to Gregerl. He is a very important factor for this team. It is not normal to sit on the bench every now and then, then come in and be there straight away,” said the captain. “You need players like that in the squad. He’s a role model who leads the way. Ultimately, he decides the game. We’re very happy to have him.”

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Freiburg’s Sallai with the early chance against West Ham

The Freiburg team started the encounter at the Europa-Park Stadium with momentum. After just under 30 seconds, Vincenzo Grifo served the incoming Roland Sallai, who was blocked at the last moment. Afterwards the game developed evenly, with a little more ball possession for the sports club. In the 16th minute, the guests from London also went on the offensive, but SC keeper Noah Atubolu had no problems with Jarrod Bowen’s finish.

As a result, both teams shied away from taking big risks. The action largely took place in midfield. Coach Christian Streich’s team tried to put the opponent under pressure, but the “Hammers” defense was stable. In the 31st minute, we suddenly had a great opportunity to take the lead, but Nicolas Höler’s shot from 14 meters after Sallai’s preparatory work ended up being too central. In direct response, Bowen failed to hit the ball correctly after a cross to the back post.

The Freiburgers were the more active team until the break, but the Breisgauers were unable to assert themselves decisively. West Ham limited themselves to a stable defense and waited for the sports club to make mistakes. A first half without any major highlights: Consequently, referee Alejandro Hernandez from Spain called for a half-time break without added time.

Doan saves from West Ham’s Paqueta

West Ham got off to a better start in the second half. Mohammed Kudus couldn’t put Atubolu in trouble with his left-footed shot in the 47th minute. At the other end, Sallai tried to pull from Kiliann Sildillia’s cross, but was blocked (48′). Shortly afterwards, the Hungarian was shown a yellow card because he had called for a penalty a little too vehemently after a free kick from the half-field. It was a phase in which there was now significantly more fire. Ritsu Doan cleared the ball at the last moment in front of Lucas Paqueta, who was ready to take a shot (52′).

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Ten minutes later, Paqueta had a great chance to take the lead, but the Brazilian sent his header over the goal from close range. Freiburg remained dominant, with a lot of possession, but without much penetration. The guests were now more dangerous. Atubolu was just able to direct Bowen’s shot from 14 meters around the post – a strong save (65th). Streich reacted and brought in two fresh offensive players with Noah Weißhaupt and Gregoritsch for Höler and Grifo. Just two minutes later, Gregoritsch scored for the first time, but keeper Lukasz Fabianski effortlessly parried the Austrian’s header. At the other end, James Ward-Prowse had a free shot, but Atubolu grabbed it safely (76′).

Freiburg’s Joker Gregoritsch stands out – an anxious wait in stoppage time

Just ten minutes before the end, substitute Gregoritsch put the sports club in the lead. The attacker only had to push a sharp cross from Sallai over the line from close range (81′). The Breisgauer team stuck with it, but Maximilian Eggestein’s shot from 16 meters was clearly too high (84′). In the final minutes, West Ham tried again to equalize, but Freiburg were safe. With the very last action of the game, the guests almost had the opportunity to equalize. Deep into stoppage time, Weißhaupt played the ball with his hand in his own penalty area. After several minutes of checking by the video referee, referee Hernandez ultimately decided against a penalty. The celebration that followed was almost as euphoric as when Gregoritsch scored.

Freiburg: First the Ruhr area, then London

The second leg will take place next Thursday (March 14, 2024, 6:45 p.m.) in London. Before it’s time to make it to the quarter-finals, Freiburg will play VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga on Sunday (March 10, 2024, 3:30 p.m.).

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