Soccer-West Ham's Antonio hits out at officials after Europa exit

Soccer Football - Europa League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - West Ham United v Bayer Leverkusen - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 18, 2024 West Ham United's Michail Antonio reacts Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

(Reuters) - West Ham United forward Michail Antonio criticised the refereeing in Thursday's Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen and said his side were "playing against 14".

Trailing 2-0 to newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Leverkusen after the first leg, West Ham drew 1-1 in London to exit the competition 3-1 on aggregate.

Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez issued 10 yellow cards, five to each side, and Antonio, who was one of those booked, was left frustrated by the frequent interruptions.

"It doesn't feel like you're playing against 11 men, it feels like you're playing against 14 including the two linos (linesmen)," Antonio, who opened the scoring with an early header, told reporters after the match.

"It's just one of those things where you have to keep pushing, make decisions go your way and remain professional.

"I'm very disappointed because everything we gave and everything we did, we weren't helped by a single decision all game and I feel some of the decisions might have changed the game."

Jeremie Frimpong scored the equalizer in the 89th minute as the visitors secured a spot in the semi-finals and are now unbeaten in 44 matches in all competitions this season.

(Reporting by Shifa Jahan in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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