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Daichi Kamada puts Frankfurt in driver’s seat against West Ham in Europa League semifinal

Japan midfielder Daichi Kamada scored the winner as Eintracht Frankfurt edged past West Ham 2-1 away from home on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals.

The 25-year-old continued to excel in the tournament, netting for the fifth time this campaign as he moved one goal shy of the top of the scoring chart, placing joint second.

While sitting ninth in the German Bundesliga, Frankfurt eliminated Spanish giant Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the tournament and picked up where it left off by going ahead within the first minute at London Stadium.

Kamada fed Rafael Borre, the lone forward, down the left, whose cross from just inside the box was headed home at the far post by Ansgar Knauff to stun the Hammers.

Michail Antonio bundled home from a free-kick to tie the score in the 21st minute for the home side, which sits seventh in the English Premier League. But Kamada, who played on the left of a two-man attacking midfield, hit the vital goal nine minutes after the break.

Djibril Sow forced a save from keeper Alphonse Areola after he was played through inside the area by Jesper Lindstrom, leaving Kamada with an easy task to nudge into an empty net.

London has been a happy hunting ground for Kamada, who scored a brace in a 2-1 win over Arsenal in the same tournament in November 2019.

Kamada almost scored a second on the night but his 79th-minute effort from inside the box took a slight deflection off the foot of Craig Dawson and came off the far upright.

West Ham, which had Said Benrahma’s effort from distance clip the corner of the framework in the second half, could have leveled for the second time in the game in stoppage time, but Jarrod Bowen’s spectacular overhead kick was denied by the bar.

Another German side, Leipzig, beat Rangers of Scotland 1-0 in the other semifinal. The second leg for the two ties will take place next Thursday.

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