Europa League - Qualifying Third Round - 2nd Leg
Astra Giurgiu2West Ham1

Astra Giurgiu 2-1 West Ham (agg 4-3)

West Ham
Manuel Lanzini scored on his debut after joining on loan in July

West Ham were knocked out of the Europa League in the third qualifying round following a 2-1 defeat by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu to lose 4-3 on aggregate.

After letting a two-goal lead slip in the first leg, debutant Manuel Lanzini put the much-changed Hammers ahead.

But two goals in four minutes from Astra skipper Constantin Budescu earned the Romanian side victory.

Defeat ends a stuttering campaign for Slaven Bilic's team, who qualified through the Fair Play League.

Modibo Maiga missed a late chance to take the game to extra time but with Astra also hitting the post twice, they created better chances at more regular intervals.

The result meant the Hammers, in their first European outing since the 2006-07 season, are eliminated from Europe before the start of their domestic season.

But with 11 changes made to the side from the first leg, with three players making their debuts, there was an obvious lack of experience on the field and an apparent lack of desperation to save the tie on a hot night in Romania.

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Did West Ham want to progress?

With Sunday's Premier League opener against Arsenal in his mind, Bilic left a host of senior players at home while Kevin Nolan, Carl Jenkinson and Maiga were the only regular starters in the team.

The Croatian was further hindered after being sent off in the first leg at Upton Park, meaning he had to sit in the stands and leave assistant Julian Dicks to deliver tactical instructions.

Nolan and Jenkinson were influential in the game but Maiga remained on the fringes until his late chance and there was an inability to turn good spells into genuine opportunities.

Despite Bilic insisting prior to the match that Europe was "important" to West Ham, Hammers fans may now wonder whether their European adventure was worth it after a campaign which started on 2 July, took in six matches without facing any big-name European teams and ended before it even got interesting.

Hammers skipper Nolan said: "The gaffer has shown in his selection the main priority is the Premier League and this year the main thing is to make sure we go to the Olympic Stadium in the Premier League.

"The statistics show it's difficult trying to rotate between Thursday and Sunday and who knows it might be a blessing in disguise? But going out is not what we wanted."

'No regrets' for Bilic

Bilic, who led former club Beskitas to the last 16 in last season's Europa League, said of his team selection: "You can't be sorry. I said it was tempting but when you make a decision you stand by it and you know the consequences.

"I have to make decisions. It is me who is making them and then when you make it you stand behind that.

"I said [on Wednesday] that we had more chances to win with some of the players who stayed in London but I think the boys not only did everything, the effort was there, the quality was there as well - especially until they scored two goals.

"When the Premier League starts, we have a game and of course we are looking to get a positive result. Do I need to justify the result here? I told you it was my decision."

How did the debutants do?

Argentine Lanzini wasted little time in making an impression on Bilic, who said beforehand that the match was an opportunity for his debutants to prove their value.

Lanzini is on a season-long loan from Abu Dhabi side Al Jazira Club and after impressing in West Ham's friendly against Werder Bremen on Sunday he was involved from the start, surging from midfield to win a free-kick, and scoring following a dangerously delivered corner.

But the 22-year-old showed his inexperience by giving the ball away in the build-up to Astra's equaliser, with fellow debutant Doneil Henry, a Canadian international, also backing away as Budescu struck the first of his two goals.

Partnered by Jenkinson in central defence, 22-year-old Henry had a steady game with Budescu continuing to cause problems. At right-back 18-year-old Kyle Knoyle made a significant bow after coming through the club's famous academy, which has produced players such as Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.

While suffering defeat in his first game and failing to deliver several crosses, the experience will no doubt form an important milestone in his education.

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian
West Ham goalkeeper Adrian

Line-ups

Astra Giurgiu

  • 1Lung Jr.
  • 84Queirós
  • 25Gaman
  • 2AlvesSubstituted forOrosat 19'minutes
  • 13Morais JúniorBooked at 37mins
  • 23Boldrin
  • 8Seto
  • 9Enache
  • 80TeixeiraSubstituted forAlibecat 67'minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 91de Amorim
  • 10BudescuSubstituted forLovinat 84'minutesBooked at 89mins

Substitutes

  • 7Alibec
  • 11Florea
  • 12Gavrilas
  • 15Oros
  • 20Lovin
  • 30Dandea
  • 77Stan

West Ham

  • 1Randolph
  • 59KnoyleBooked at 45mins
  • 12Jenkinson
  • 25HenryBooked at 49mins
  • 37PageSubstituted forPikeat 90+3'minutes
  • 23Poyet
  • 4Nolan
  • 39Cullen
  • 20Maiga
  • 28Lanzini
  • 36LeeSubstituted forBrownat 80'minutes

Substitutes

  • 34Spiegel
  • 51Brown
  • 54Chambers
  • 61Mavila
  • 62Nasha
  • 65Pask
  • 66Pike
Referee:
Paolo Valeri

Match Stats

Home TeamAstra GiurgiuAway TeamWest Ham
Possession
Home42%
Away58%
Shots
Home13
Away8
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home7
Away4
Fouls
Home19
Away11

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 6th August 2015

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