|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Denis Alibec strikes as Astra Giurgiu frustrate West Ham in Europa League
datePublished Thursday 18 August 2016 22.48 BST
Slaven Bilic was left to reflect on a costly 90 seconds after West Ham suffered more jitters in Giurgiu. The Hammers were leading the Romanian champions, Astra Giurgiu, 1-0 with nine minutes of the first leg of their Europa League qualifying play-off remaining when the 18-year-old Marcus Browne raced through on goal.
Browne opted to square the ball seemingly for Michail Antonio to slide into an unguarded net and kill the match off but the winger hit the side netting and a minute and a half later Astra were level.
West Ham failed to clear a corner and the substitute Denis Alibec crashed the ball home as Astra, who beat Bilic’s side in the qualifiers last season, secured a positive result before next week’s second leg at the London Stadium.
However Bilic, without Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and the club record signing, André Ayew – who this week was ruled out for four months through injury – remains confident his side will not suffer a repeat of last year’s embarrassing exit.
“When you concede late of course you are not happy, especially when you know we had a glorious chance on the counter-attack and we could and should have put the game to bed,” he said. “Then we concede after a set piece, which we had always looked comfortable with. It would be better to be 2-0 or 1-0 up and now next week is an open game.
“But under the circumstances, with the pitch and the team we had out there, it’s a good result. We should create more on a better pitch, which ours will be. It would have been ideal to win here 5-0 and rest Thursday. But it’s OK. And the score is very simple – if we can’t beat them at home, then we shouldn’t be in the Europa League.”
West Ham were handed the lead a minute before half time when Cristian Sapunaru handled in the area and Mark Noble scored from the penalty spot. The Astra manager, Marius Sumudica, had made a surprise appearance on the bench having been serving a lengthy ban for betting on matches. He must have had some choice words for his side at the break because they looked far better in the second half and deserved their draw.
“It was a weird feeling to be back but I helped my team from that point of view,” Sumudica said. “I gave them my desire to win and to be fighters. I knew we were facing a very strong team who have one player who cost as much as our squad but in the second half we were at the same level.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS AND SAM CUNNINGHAM'S RATINGS
ASTRA GIURGIU (4-2-3-1): Lung 6.5; Vangjeli 6 (Alibec 58 7), Geraldo Alves 6, Fabricio 6, Junior Morais 6; Lovin 6, Sapunaru 5; Ionita 6 (Florea 86), Seto 6, Filipe Teixeira 6 (Balaure 90); Niculae 6
UNUSED SUBS: Gavrilas, Florea, Oros, Mansaly, Stan, Balaure
BOOKED: Sapunaru, Vangjeli, Geraldo
GOAL: Alibec 83
MANAGER: Marius Sumudica 6.5
WEST HAM (4-4-2): Randolph 6; Byram 6, Oxford 6, Ogbonna 6, Burke 7.5; Gokhan Tore 6.5 (Browne 75 6), Noble 7, Obiang 6, Antonio 6; Calleri 6.5 (Collins 63 6), Valencia 6 (Carroll 62 6)
UNUSED SUBS: Adrian, Reid, Kouyate, Fletcher
BOOKED: Byram, Oxford, Antonio
GOAL: Noble 45+1 pen
MANAGER: Slaven Bilic 5.5
REFEREE: Artur Soraes Dias (Portugal) 6
Ratings by Sam Cunningham