Hammers knocked out of Europe

A 2-1 defeat away in Romania ends the Hammers European adventure
FC Astra Giurgiu 2-1 West Ham United (4-3 Aggregate)
UEFA Europa League Third Round Qualifying Round

West Ham United’s European adventure came to an end as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat away to Astra Giurgiu.

Having drawn the first leg 2-2, the Hammers knew they faced an uphill struggle and so it proved as a brace from Astra captain Constantin Budescu sealed the win.

While the game ended in agony for the visitors, they could not have got off to a better start as debutant Manuel Lanzini scored inside two minutes.

Slaven Bilic named an entirely different XI to the one that drew 2-2 a week previously. Among the starting eleven, Bilic gave debuts to Kyle Knoyle, Doneil Henry and Manuel Lanzini while Carl Jenkinson, playing in central defence, made his return to first team action since re-joining from Arsenal in the summer. 

A hot and humid day in Giurgiu eventually gave way to a more bearable evening. The Hammers fans were in fine voice and were repaid almost immediately as debutant Manuel Lanzini scored two minutes into his West Ham debut.

Following pressure from an early corner, the Argentine winger picked the ball up on the edge of the box and beat Silviu Lung with a composed finish.

In an even opening first half, the hosts responded with an spell of pressure themselves and came inches away from equalising when captain Constantin Budescu’s cross-cum-shot nearly caught Darren Randolph out, luckily it hit the crossbar and was cleared.

However this proved to be a sign of what was to come as Astra’s pressure took its toll when Budescu scored a first-half brace inside four minutes. The equaliser came in the 32nd minute when he swept his effort home from the edge of the box before netting a composed finish from close range.

The hosts held their advantage going into the interval with the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici rocking.
Into the second half and the Hammers started with renewed vigour and verve as they enjoyed a greater share of possession, however the final pass of each attacking move proved to be elusive.

The Hammers midfield trio of Kevin Nolan, Josh Cullen and Diego Poyet worked tirelessly to keep their hopes alive. They were full on industry and hard graft yet they had little to show for their efforts, Cullen in particular demonstrated his ability as a highly promising player.

With time running out, Academy graduate Jordan Brown was given his first team debut, replacing Elliot Lee but it proved too little too late.

On a disappointing evening for the Claret and Blues, Modibo Maiga had the best chance of the final moments, he plucked the ball out of the air before firing just over.   

FC Astra Giurgiu: Lung, Alves, Seto, Enache, Budescu ©, Morais, Boldrin, Gaman, Teixeira, Queiros, Amorim

Subs: Gavrilas (GK), Alibec, Florea, Oros, Lovin, Dandea, Stan

Goals: Lanzini 2
West Ham United: Randolph, Nolan ©, Jenkinson, Maiga, Poyet ,Henry, Lanzini, Lee (Brown 80), Page (Pike 89), Cullen, Knoyle

Subs: Spiegel (GK), Pask, Chambers, Nasha, Mavila

Goals: Budescu 32, 36

Referee: Paolo Valeri