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West Ham comes back to take semifinal first leg vs AZ Alkmaar

Joe Prince-Wright and Nick Mendola preview all the Premier League Matchweek 36 action, as league leaders Manchester City look to avoid dropping points against Everton for the second time this season.

West Ham United’s quest for a first European title this century is alive and well following a 2-1 comeback win over AZ Alkmaar in the sides’ UEFA Europa Conference League semifinal first leg in London on Thursday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

AZ star Tijani Reijnders staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead with a strike from distance that fooled Alphonse Areola, and the Eredivisie side took that lead to halftime.

But Said Benrahma converted a second-half penalty and Michail Antonio cleaned up a mess in the six-yard box to put West Ham in front after 90 minutes ahead of a Thursday second leg in Alkmaar.

West Ham vs AZ Alkmaar player ratings: Stars of the Show

Jarrod Bowen

Said Benrahma

Tijani Reijnders

Nayef Aguerd

West Ham vs AZ Alkmaar player ratings

West Ham vs AZ Alkmaar as it happened

First half: AZ starts with most of the ball but it’s West Ham who gets a real bite of danger. Said Benrahma curls a shot toward the far post but ex-Brighton man Mat Ryan gets a hand on the ball to flick it wide of the post.

West Ham continuing to grow in comfort with and without the ball. They’ve taken four of the game’s six shots. It’s 0-0 in the 23rd minute.

It’s tight, that’s for sure, as we hit the 38th minute. AZ has better than 60 percent of the ball but the Hammers have five of the game’s eight shot attempts. xG totals are under .50 for the game. Open it up, men!

GOOOOAAALLLL! AZ goes in front and West Ham is surrounding the referee in protest. The Irons thought there was a foul on Lucas Paqueta in the buildup. Alphonse Areola could not reach a bounding shot from 25 or so yards and it’s not going to be called back by VAR. It’s AZ star Tijani Reijnders, and it’s 1-0 AZ. Areola could’ve done better there.

Second half: Can the Irons rally in the second 45? Kickoff is moments away.

AZ is here to shut. it. down. Their xG still sits at 0.15 for the match but they’ve got a lead in London and would be happy to keep the ball and go for the final whistle.

West Ham, of course, wants the ball, but its plan of countering its way to a win grows more precarious by the minute.

Here’s a 60th-minute chance for Jarrod Bowen, but the former Hull City man rips his shot wide of the near post. Still 1-0 AZ.

PENALTY TO WEST HAM! Bowen goes to head a Tomas Soucek pass toward goal and Ryan gets both hands of his parry into Bowen’s mug. GOAL, 1-1. 67'

GOOOOALLLL! An almighty goal mouth scramble and of course that’s a fitting way for a David Moyes’ team to take its first lead of a semifinal. Michail Antonio pokes it past Ryan after an AZ goal mouth block. 2-1, West Ham.

Michail Antonio goal video: Irons take the lead

How to watch West Ham vs AZ Alkmaar live, stream link and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Thursday May 11
Online: Live updates for Conference League via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines & star players

If West Ham’s going to have joy, it’ll likely have a lot to do what happens in the center of the park, as Declan Rice has been massive for the Irons this season and Lucas Paqueta’s in-form and capable of brilliance. And that’ll be needed because AZ has a stud of its own in the middle.

AZ center midfielder Tijani Reijnders is the leader of the side’s bid to control the game, an excellent ball progressor who reads the game well and chips in goals and assists.

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee), Kurt Zouma (ankle), Vladimir Coufal (thigh)

AZ Alkmaar team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Bruno Martins Indi (thigh), Sam Westerveld (knee), Dani de Wit (foot)

Follow @NicholasMendola