|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
James Collins sent off as West Ham lose two-goal lead against Astra Giurgiu
Jacob Steinberg at Upton Park
datePublished Thursday 30 July 2015 22.11 BST
An evening that promised so much for West Ham United ended in disappointment, acrimony and a dash of farce, with Slaven Bilic sent to the stands after contesting one too many of Adrien Jaccottet’s decisions in the closing stages and Astra Giurgi seizing control of this Europa League third-round qualifier thanks to a comical own goal from Angelo Ogbonna. West Ham’s European adventure is in the balance now and they face a daunting task to resuscitate it in Romania next week.
Poor discipline continues to blight West Ham in this competition; they were cruising after Mauro Zárate gave them a 2-0 lead early in the second half, yet they were vulnerable after James Collins was shown their third red card in five matches and Astra fought back to claim a precious draw thanks to a stunning goal from Fernando Boldrin and Ogbonna’s slice of misfortune.
Even more damagingly for West Ham, they lost Enner Valencia to a potentially nasty knee injury in the first half after he caught his leg in the turf. “If you add to that, a couple of injuries with [Joey] O’Brien and Valencia, it wasn’t a great night,” Bilic said. “O’Brien felt a hamstring. With Enner, it’s a knee injury and I think he twisted it. He is going to have a scan. Until he does the scan, it is speculation.” He did not sound optimistic about Valencia. “I am worried,” he said. “It is the biggest reason why I am not happy tonight.”
West Ham’s manager also seethed at the Swiss officials and was sent away from the touchline after his angry reaction to a foul on Dimitri Payet. “I just said to the referee I wasn’t happy with the situation,” Bilic said. “I didn’t swear. He just told me I can’t shout at him.”
Although Bilic defended Collins after he was sent off for two yellow cards, the harsh truth is that West Ham are being let down by their naivety against cannier opponents. It is as almost as if they are aiming sarcastic digs at their back-door entry into Europe via the fair play league. Already missing the suspended Diafra Sakho and James Tomkins, they could not hold on with 10 men.
There had been signs of encouragement for Bilic before Collins went off. Payet was bright and inventive in his free role and he set up the opening goal, his teasing cross from the left met by a thumping header from Valencia in the 23rd minute.
West Ham continued to push and Zárate made it 2-0 when he danced past two defenders and slid a low finish past Silviu Lung. Yet the mood changed when Collins caught Constantin Budescu. Boldrin pulled a goal back with a bullet from 25 yards and with eight minutes to go, Ogbonna’s debut was ruined when the centre-back’s attempted clearance looped over Adrián.
Astra’s manager, Marius Sumudica, suggested the tie is 60-40 in West Ham’s favour. “If we get another red card, we have to stay here,” Bilic said.