Ten-man West Ham hold Lyon to keep Europa League!

To many West Ham fans, this Europa League quarter-final encounter with Lyon appeared to be the French link between a bizarre last-16 thrashing of Sevilla and a semi-final against Barcelona or Frankfurt.

It could yet turn out to be that,

but based on the evidence of this tumultuous first-leg stalemate, it won’t be a French victory.

As West Ham fans packed their stadium on this early spring evening,

the east London air carried a gentle chill and was laced with a distinct dose of expectation,

with the pre-match rendition of “Bubbles” emitting undertones of belief rather than the almost audible hope that characterised the anthem ahead

of the second-leg home win against Sevilla.

While the noise level generated by the home fans approached unsafe levels at times, the small group of travelling Lyon fans jumped and chanted throughout,

expecting to outshine any party planned by the Premier League side.

Lyon’s players were doing their part on the field. Off the ball, Peter Bosz’s players kept a structured form and were sharp with their interceptions, forcing their West Ham rivals to cede possession and making it difficult for them to reclaim it.

Lyon sought to grab the lead through Moussa Dembele,

who failed to convert with an improvised flicked finish from close range after Ryan Fredericks‘s weak attempt to cut off a through play culminated in a cross reaching the striker during a difficult first ten minutes for David Moyes’ side.

The final moments were tense, the eight minutes of added time torturous for the home fans. Ultimately, neither side managed to muster a winner.

Watch the equal game and goals of West Ham and Lyon today!!

As such, West Ham and their fans will travel to France with a genuine belief that a semi-final – potentially a dream clash with

Barcelona – is still on the cards.

The second leg can certainly still ensure that this tie becomes the French connection that West Ham fans hoped for. Don’t be surprised if it’s another thriller.