West Ham’s first European knockout game in over 40 years ended in a narrow 1-0 loss to Europa League serial winners Sevilla.
A second-half goal from Moroccan striker Munir, who only started after Ivan Rakitic was injured in the warm-up, settled the first leg in favor of the Spaniards.
But Hammers boss David Moyes will have seen enough to feel his side are capable of overturning a one-goal deficit at the London Stadium in a week and extending their European adventure.
It says a lot about how far West has come in the short time it has been four years to the day since they were beaten 3-0 at home by Burnley in a game marred by pitch invasions and protests against the owners.
Now the Hammers rub shoulders with the continent’s elite and take part in the club’s biggest night on the European stage since 1981.
It was probably the toughest draw they could have landed in the Round of 16, given Sevilla are the most successful side in tournament history as six-time winners – regularly knocking out players. English clubs along the way – as well as being Real Madrid’s closest challenger. for the LaLiga title.
Julen Lopetegui’s side have lost just twice in the league all season and have the best defensive record in the division, having conceded just 18 goals in 27 games.
But they have a host of injury absentees and suffered another blow when dangerous former Barcelona midfielder Rakitic was sent off on his 34th birthday.
The Hammers were without injured top scorer Jarrod Bowen, but Declan Rice returned from illness to lead the team in a noisy Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Munir should have opened the scoring in the first five minutes, but he headed Marcos Acuna’s cross wide in front of the goal.
West Ham created a glorious chance with 10 minutes remaining, Manuel Lanzini’s free-kick headed through goal by Rice straight at Nikola Vlasic.
The Croatian had a free header from six yards out but planted it too close to Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou, who reached out to make a superb reaction save.
Sevilla moved the ball with ease and Munir came back after being played by Oliver Torres but rolled his shot wide, before Alphonse Areola saved a Youssef En-Nesyri header.
But the Hammers were still giving as well as they could, Vlasic forcing a low save from Bounou with a drive close to the post before half-time.
After the break, Michail Antonio sent the ball back to the edge of the box from where Tomas Soucek hit an uphill drive which Bonou cleared.
But Sevilla remained the clearest threat and Munir flew in before En-Nesyri headed for another decent chance directly at Areola.
The home fans took the noise level from loud to deafening and it had its effect when their team took the lead on the hour mark.
After Kurt Zouma was booked for a foul in a dangerous position, Acuna swung in a free-kick which found Munir, who headed a magnificent side volley at the far post.
West Ham needed to keep their composure and they were relieved to see a volley from Jesus Corona wide deflected.
Nevertheless, the visitors still had a chance to strike and substitute Said Benrahma nearly set up an equalizer for Pablo Fornals, who was only denied by a final block from former Manchester City full-back Jesus Navas to preserve Sevilla’s narrow lead in a tie that West Ham will feel they are still very much in.