West Ham vs Astra Giurgiu: Slaven Bilic confident of Europa League qualification despite first-leg draw

Astra Giurgiu 1 West Ham 1: Romanian champions hold Hammers to stalemate in Europa League play-off first leg

Andy Sims
Giurgiu
Friday 19 August 2016 09:47
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Slaven Bilic believes his West Ham side have enough to reach the Europa League group stage
Slaven Bilic believes his West Ham side have enough to reach the Europa League group stage

Slaven Bilic remains confident West Ham's European dream is still on track despite their latest bout of Giurgiu jitters.

The Hammers were held 1-1 by Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu in the first leg of their Europa League play-off after Mark Noble's penalty was cancelled out by a late Denis Alibec equaliser.

And Bilic gave his players a blunt message ahead of the return leg at London Stadium next Thursday.

He said: "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 beaten by the same opposition in the qualifiers last season, although Bilic picked a far stronger line-up this time around despite a lengthy injury list.

Mark Noble celebrates after putting West Ham into an early lead

Noble fired the Hammers ahead from the spot on the stroke of half-time following a handball, but Astra substitute Alibec crashed in the leveller seven minutes from time.

West Ham have now not beaten Giurgiu in three attempts in just over a year and boss Bilic was left to count the cost of Michail Antonio's miss moments before they equalised.

Youngster Marcus Browne broke through on goal but opted to square the ball to Antonio, who could only slide it into the side-netting.

"When you concede late you of course 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," added Bilic.

Denis Alibec celebrates after scoring an equaliser for Astra Giurgiu

"And instead of 2-0 and killing the game, they get a corner a minute later and score from it.

"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.

"We have to cope without moaning in this period. We are strong, we have to show character and quality."

PA

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