|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham Europa dream ends after Teixeira strike for Astra Giurgiu
Jacob Steinberg at the London Stadium
Date Published Thursday 25 August 2016 21.52 BST
All that hard work last season was for nothing. So were all those draining qualifying games this summer. West Ham United’s attempt to reach the group stage of the Europa League ended in familiar frustration, because of both the manner of the defeat and the identity of their conquerors.
Astra Giurgiu were too wily for them for the second successive year, becoming the first visiting side to win at the London Stadium, but the way West Ham squandered their slender advantage was largely down to their own making. Slaven Bilic’s side conceded a sloppy goal, let themselves down with some generous finishing and were too naive in the defining moments.
On a night when West Ham’s weaknesses in attack were encapsulated by Bilic resorting to sending James Collins up front in those desperate dying stages, the only consolation is that a £24m fee has been agreed with Juventus for Simone Zaza. How they could have done with the Italy forward here.
Bilic did not shed any light on that deal. He was too frustrated with what he had witnessed on the pitch. “I didn’t hide it,” West Ham’s manager said.
“I said this is one of the most important games for us this year. This is like a final that you have to win to go through. The disappointment is massive. We created a few opportunities that we should have scored.”
The nagging concern for West Ham was the knowledge they should have left Romania in a vastly superior position last week, only for Astra to equalise moments after a glaring miss from Michail Antonio. Although Astra have made a slow start to their season, winning one of their first five league matches, the Romanian champions produced a classic European away performance, snatching a 2-1 aggregate victory thanks to Filipe Teixeira’s goal and some spectacular goalkeeping from Silviu Lung.
To put Astra’s achievement into context, they lost 5-1 to CFR Cluj last Sunday and have a manager, Marius Sumudica, who cannot attend his team’s domestic matches after being banned by the Romanian Federation for betting on games. “This is one of the best days in my life, on pretty much the same level as when my children were born,” a jubilant Sumudica said. “Because I knew that they were mine. Obviously I’m kidding.”
Sumudica, who revealed Astra have a monthly wage bill of €130,000 (£111,000), argued West Ham had a better team last year and it was true that Bilic’s task was complicated by the absence of eight injured players and Arthur Masuaku’s ineligibility. The relentless injuries have hurt most in the attacking areas and this was a game too soon for Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet, both of whom could return at Manchester City on Sunday.
For all that West Ham lack a creative spark without Payet, however, they did make chances. The problem was taking them. This was a difficult evening for Jonathan Calleri, the Argentinian forward who spurned two glorious opportunities, and West Ham found Lung in defiant form.
Yet, frantically as West Ham searched for that elusive goal, what really frustrated Bilic was that they played as individuals. He said that he did not see enough desire from his team.
Teixeira’s winner was utterly avoidable, stemming from a West Ham attack that broke down when Sam Byram put Reece Burke into difficulties with a poor pass from right to left on the stroke of half-time.
Burke’s heavy headed touch invited a tackle and West Ham were exposed when the young left-back sold himself, leaving his fellow defenders outnumbered as Astra countered. With both full-backs out of position Daniel Niculae fed Teixeira, the Portuguese midfielder formerly of West Bromwich Albion, who gave Astra control of the tie for the first time.
West Ham, who presented Edimilson Fernandes on the pitch before kick-off after completing the £5.5m signing of the Swiss midfielder from FC Sion, were crying out for inspiration. But when Bilic turned to his bench during the interval, he could bring on only Enner Valencia, whose confidence disappeared long ago.
At least Ashley Fletcher, a summer signing from Manchester United, showed no fear after replacing Calleri. The young forward scared Astra with his direct running, appealing for a penalty after a risky tackle from Teixeira; and a superb save from Lung denied him his first goal in claret and blue.
However, this was the first real test of West Ham’s character in their new stadium. It was also the first time they heard boos at the final whistle.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS
West Ham (4-1-4-1): Randolph 5, Byram 5, Reid 5, Ogbonna 6, Burke 5 (Collins 88, 5), Nordtveit 5 (Valencia 46 min, 6), Tore 5, Obiang 6, Kouyate 6, Antonio 5.5, Calleri 4 (Fletcher 61, 7)
Subs not used: Adrian, Oxford, Browne, Diangana
Bookings: Reid, Byram, Collins, Antonio
Manager: Slaven Bilic 5
Astra Giurgiu (4-4-2): Lung 8; Sapunaru 6, Alves 6, Fabricio 6, Morais 6; Ionita 6 (Stan 75, 5), Lovin (Florea 88), Seto, Teixeira 6.5; Alibec 7, Niculae 6 (Oros 58, 5)
Subs not used: Gavrilas, Raileanu, Moise, Balaure
Bookings: Morais, Lung
Goal: Teixeira 45
Manager: Marius Sumudica 6
Man of the match: Lung
Referee: Manuel Grafe 6.5
*Ratings by Sam Cunningham at the London Stadium