Freiburg super sub Michael Gregoritsch celebrates his match-winning goal against West Ham. - © Christian Kaspar-Bartke
Freiburg super sub Michael Gregoritsch celebrates his match-winning goal against West Ham. - © Christian Kaspar-Bartke

Michael Gregoritsch gives Freiburg the edge in UEFA Europa League tie with West Ham


Substitute Michael Gregoritsch scored the only goal as Freiburg beat West Ham 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 tie.

Freiburg 1-0 West Ham
Goals: 1-0
Gregoritsch 81' (assist: Sallai)

Freiburg had finished second to West Ham in the group stage, before winning a dramatic play-off against Lens to reach the knockout rounds. The hero of that tie, Roland Sallai, very nearly gave his team the lead inside the opening 60 seconds, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Vladimír Coufal. Freiburg continued to set the tempo, with Sallai pulling the strings. The Hungary international set up a promising opening for Lucas Höler with 31 minutes gone, but the Freiburg forward could not find a way past Łukasz Fabiański in the West Ham goal. The visitors responded in kind, with Jarrod Bowen crashing a volley wide.

Freiburg were unlucky not to go ahead early in the second half as Fabiański stopped a deflected Sallai scissor-kick from creeping in. That sparked a wave of West Ham pressure, with Konstantinos Mavropanos heading against the crossbar from a corner and Lucas Paquetá failing to turn Mohammed Kudus's teasing cross into the six-yard box on target. Noah Atubolu kept out well-struck efforts from James Ward-Prowse and Bowen, who miscued from close range soon after. It proved a costly miss as Gregoritsch pounced at the other end to convert Sallai's cross-shot and give Freiburg the edge heading into the second leg in London on 14 March.

Match stats

  • Freiburg are playing in UEFA competition for the sixth time.
  • Gregortisch scored his fifth Europa League goal of the season.
  • Sallai produced his first assist in this season's competition, adding to his four goals in the previous rounds.
  • Christian Streich oversaw his 478th competitive game as Freiburg coach.
  • Mavropanos made 80 Bundelsiga appearances as a VfB Stuttgart player and also represented Nuremberg in the German second division.
  • These two sides met earlier in the campaign, with West Ham the first - and only - English club to have played Freiburg. The Hammers edged both Group A encounters - winning 2-1 in Germany and 2-0 in London - and are the only team to defeat Freiburg in the Europa League this term.


Freiburg: Atubolu - Sildillia (Kübler 82'), Ginter, Gulde, Günter (c) - Eggestein, Höfler - Dōan (Muslija 82'), Sallai (Röhl 88'), Grifo (Weißhaupt 70') - Höler (Gregoritsch 70')
Unused subs: Müller, Uphoff, Szalai, Keitel, Adamu, Philipp, Makengo
Out: Kyereh (knee), Lienhart (groin), Schmidt (abdominals)
Coach: Christian Streich 

West Ham: Fabiański - Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma (c), Emerson (Cresswell 68') - Ãlvarez - Ward-Prowse (Phillips 81'), Souček, Paquetá (Antonio 90'+1) - Bowen, Kudus
Unused subs: Areola, Anang, Johnson, Ings, Ogbonna, Earthy, Casey, Mubama, Orford
Out: Cornet (hamstring)
Coach: David Moyes

As it happened!

1 - 0

(0 - 0)

West Ham
Europa League
Round of 16, 1st leg
Round of 16, 1st leg Europa-Park Stadion

Full-time: Freiburg 1-0 West Ham

There goes the final whistle! Christian Streich's super sub Michael Gregoritsch once again comes up trumps late on for Freiburg, who scored against the run of play to take a valuable 1-0 lead into next week's UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg against West Ham!
+ 6

VAR check over

The VAR check is complete and there is no decision against Freiburg.
+ 6

VAR check

Noah Weißhaupt blocks a Kalvin Phillips shot inside the box, possibly with an arm above his head. There will be a VAR check.
+ 4

Last chances

Mavropanos and Bowen both send a couple of efforts off target in the closing seconds. Freiburg are almost there.
+ 1



Added time

There will be four minutes of time added on at the Europa-Park Stadion.

Gregoritsch's hot streak

Incidentally, Michael Gregoritsch now has five goals in seven Europa League games to add to his four Bundesliga strikes this term.

Freiburg changes

Quick as you like after the goal, Freiburg have introduced Muslija and Kübler as they look to see this one out.



Freiburg in front!

Would you believe it!? Freiburg have only gone and taken the lead against the run of play and it's that man Michael Gregoritsch - Mr. Super Sub - who has scored. The Austrian has the simplest of tasks to slot home from close range from Sallai's cross-shot across the face!

No let up

Bowen just fails to convert a centre from Cresswell as Freiburg survive one more scare.

West Ham pushing hard

The way this second half has been going, Freiburg would possibly take a scoreless draw now, if offered the possibility.

Atubolu alert again

Tomáš Souček tees up James Ward-Prowse, whose shot from the edge of the area is saved by Noah Atubolu.

Gregoritsch introduction

Gregoritsch is straight into the thick of the action but the Austrian forward's effort is easily dealt with by Fabiański.

Freiburg subs

Weißhaupt and Gregoritsch have been thrown into the mix by coach Streich as he attempts to wrestle back control of this first leg.

Ward-Prowse set-piece

James Ward-Prowse sends a free kick wide of the target and Freiburg boss Christian Streich has seen enough as he prepares to make changes.



Atubolu earning his keep

Another big stop from Atubolu to deny Bowen, who almost found the left corner of the goal with a smart shot.

Visitors taking control

Christian Streich's side have seen West Ham take the upper hand in this game in the past five minutes or so. The home fans are doing their best to inspire a response from the team in red and white.

West Ham come again

This is a very dangerous spell from the Premier League side and Bowen is the latest player to have a go at goal, his curling effort well saved by Atubolu between the Freiburg posts.

Visitors almost score

It doesn't get much closer than that. Paquetá meets Kudus's cross from the left but can only head over the top from inside the six-yard box.

Grifo off target

Vincenzo Grifo smashes a long-range effort over the crossbar.

Paquetá booked

Lucas Paquetá is shown a yellow card for a foul on Ritsu Dōan.

Yellow card


Visitors hit the woodwork

Mavropanos connects with Ward-Prowse's corner and heads against the outside of the post.

Dōan saves Freiburg

Bowen's cross to the back stick is edged out by Ritsu Dōan with Paquetá prowling.

Sallai warned

Sallai is booked for protesting to the referee.

Yellow card


So close Sallai!

Roland Sallai connects with a scissor-kick and the ball hits Souček before Fabiański makes a last-gasp save on the line.


We're back underway in the second half in Freiburg.

Half-time: Freiburg 0-0 West Ham

The hosts have edged this first leg so far and have created the game's best openings but it remains scoreless at the break.

Sildillia sees yellow

Freiburg full-back Sildillia is booked for a foul on Álvarez.

Yellow card


Play on

Dōan appears to go down under a challenge from Mavropanos inside the West Ham area. Nothing doing, says the referee.

West Ham respond

Back up the other end and Bowen volleys wide after connecting with a Kudus centre. All of a sudden, it's end-to-end.

Freiburg come to life

The game bursts into life with Sallai feeding Höler, who shoots left-footed and looks on as Fabiański makes a save. Big moment for the hosts.

Tense encounter

Both sides look a little fearful of making an error that could lead to a big chance. There's not been much give in the contest between two compact teams.

Freiburg setting tempo

The hosts continue to set the pace here and still have most of the ball. A goal would do wonders for Christian Streich's side right about now.

Kudus off target

Mohammed Kudus has a pop at the Freiburg goal but the Ghana international's shot is wayward.

Eggestein sighter

Maximilian Eggestein slams a free kick from distance over the crossbar and the Freiburg fans applaud their team's attempts to edge ahead in this first leg.

Atubolu alert

Atubolu saves handily enough from Bowen's speculative effort.

Dōan menacing

Ritsu Dōan engineers some space for himself before letting fly at goal from the edge of the area. Álvarez makes a block.

Home comforts

Freiburg have had 79 per cent possession thus far, with two chances to West Ham's none.

Even contest

Both sides are doing their best to settle into their respective shapes here. It's been an even opening at the Europa-Park Stadion, that early Freiburg chance aside.

Solid beginning

There's been a very lively start to this European encounter with both sides bringing plenty of intensity.

Almost an opener !

Straight from the off Sallai almost gives the hosts the earliest of lead only for Coufal to deny the Freiburg No.22.

Game on!

We are underway in the Black Forest!

Electric atmosphere

This is what it's all about. The Europa-Park Stadion is alive with noise and colour as the teams make their way out onto the pitch. Kick-off is fast approaching.

More on those teams

Freiburg are unchanged from the 2-2 draw against Bayern, with Christian Günter and Vincenzo Grifo among the starters. West Ham show one change, though, with Łukasz Fabiański starting in goal as he has throughout the London club's 2023/24 Europa League campaign.

Freiburg starting XI

Atubolu - Sildillia, Ginter, Gulde, Günter (c) - Eggestein, Höfler - Dōan, Sallai, Grifo - Höler

Freiburg subs

Müller, Uphoff, Szalai, Weißhaupt, Keitel, Kübler, Adamu, Muslija, Philipp, Makengo, Röhl, Gregoritsch

West Ham starting XI

Fabiański - Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma (c), Emerson - Ãlvarez - Ward-Prowse, Souček, Paquetá - Bowen, Kudus

West Ham subs

Areola, Anang, Johnson, Cresswell, Antonio, Phillips, Ings, Ogbonna, Earthy, Casey, Mubama, Orford

New ground in sight

Freiburg have made the last 16 of a European competition for the second time in their history following their elimination by Juventus at this stage of last season's UEFA Europa League.

Another big atmosphere in store

European nights seem to bring out the very best of Freiburg's new stadium. The place was positively rocking in their comeback win against Lens in the last round. Freiburg's head of football Jochen Saier said after the match: "It was incredible. I have never seen the stadium like that. After our first goal went in, the energy was unbelievable."

More from Freiburg

Recently recovered from an achilles tendon problem, Matthias Ginter is back to 100 per cent and is expected to feature prominently for the Black Forest side in European competition this week. Of opponents West Ham, the 30-year-old said, "Sure, they have a good team with a lot of good individual players. It will be important that we defend well. We are all competitive athletes and always want to get the most out of [games]. That's why we'll try to make it a special evening [against the Premier League side]."

The view from West Ham

West Ham midfielder James Ward-Prowse said he is expecting Freiburg to provide a much sterner test to when the teams met in the group stages earlier this season. “It’s certainly not going to be an easy ride," the 29-year-old explained, in quotes appearing on the club's official website. "It’s probably going to be tougher than when we’ve played them before, because they know a bit more about us now, and they’ll have extra motivation going into the tie," Ward-Prowse added.

The view from Freiburg

Freiburg boss Christian Streich is determined his side give it a real go against West Ham, using last weekend's 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich as an example of the fight his side is capable of. "We are in the round of 16, we fought hard for this and we are very happy now because it is something very special for us," the tactician explained. "But of course you always want more. What's important for us is that we are courageous, like we were against Bayern."

Personnel latest

Freiburg are boosted by the return to full fitness of captain and left-back Christian Günter, who marked his first start since Bundesliga Matchday 1 with the opening goal against Bayern. However, Philipp Lienhart - one of Streich's first-choice central defenders - is still unavailable due to a groin injury. West Ham, meanwhile, make the trip without injured midfielder Maxwel Cornet.

Third time lucky?

Freiburg showed tremendous fighting spirit to reach the last 16 proper. Following a goalless play-off first leg in Lens, Die Breisgauer were 2-0 down at half-time in the return fixture. Roland Sallai reduced the arrears with over an hour gone, before levelling the tie in stoppage time. An extra-time goal from Michael Gregoritsch sealed the comeback and set up a rematch against West Ham. It was the Hammers who topped Group A ahead of Freiburg, thanks to home and away wins over the Black Forest outfit - Freiburg's only European defeats in 2023/24.

West Ham: form check

UEFA Europa Conference League holders West Ham are also in the mix for another season of European football. David Moyes' team were on an eight-game losing run in all competitions, but head to Freiburg in seventh place domestically after back-to-back wins over Brentford and Everton.

Watch: Freiburg 2-2 Bayern - highlights

Freiburg finished fifth in last season's Bundesliga, falling just three points short of UEFA Champions League qualification. Christian Streich's team held Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw last weekend, but are ninth in the current standings, seven points adrift of the top six in a congested race for the European places.


Freiburg's reward for their stirring UEFA Europa League play-off win over Lens is a last-16 showdown with West Ham United. The two sides met in the group stage - can Freiburg steal a first-leg advantage in the Black Forest?