'It was a very frustrating evening'

Slaven Bilic cut a frustrated manager after seeing West Ham United squander a two-goal UEFA Europa League lead to AFC Astra Giurgiu

Slaven Bilic cut a hugely frustrated manager after seeing his West Ham United side squander a two-goal UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg advantage to Romanians Astra Giurgiu.

The Hammers surged into a deserved 2-0 lead through goals from Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate and looked on course to wrap the tie up before James Collins was sent-off for a second bookable offence just before the hour-mark.

With West Ham having already lost the injured Joey O’Brien and Enner Valencia, Bilic could not shuffle his pack and an inspired Astra suddenly found new energy.

First, Brazilian Fernando Boldrin smashed in from 25 yards via the underside of the crossbar, then the unfortunate Angelo Ogbonna marred his full debut by diverting a hopeful ball into the box past the helpless Adrian.

Speaking to West Ham TV Bilic, who was himself sent to the stands by Swiss referee Adrien Jaccottet late on, could not hide his disappointment at the succession of events that derailed his side.

"It was a very frustrating evening because we played well until the moment we had a player sent-off,” said the Croatian. “We were two-up and we were dominating the game.

"We had chances to score the third goal. It was a professional foul from Collins and I can't blame him in that situation. The second yellow was a little harsh, for me.

"After that, until they scored that great goal, they didn't create but they started to hurt us. We still had some counter-attacks and chances, but in the end they scored one great goal and an own-goal, but it was a different game after they scored the first one."

We definitely played well in the first hour, but the game lasts 90 minutes and we had to react better to going down to ten men
Before Collins was dismissed for bringing down Astra captain Constantin Budescu, West Ham looked on course for a comfortable victory against technically competent but largely toothless opponents to that point.

With Dimitri Payet influential and Valencia, Zarate and Cheikhou Kouyate running wild, the Hammers had 12 corners in the opening 45 minutes, while also getting in behind the Romanian defence time and again.

"We definitely played well in the first hour, but the game lasts 90 minutes and we had to react better to going down to ten men,” Bilic reflected.

"The problem was also that we could not change a lot because we had already done two substitutions so we had to wait. We were one man down and we couldn’t change in case someone else got injured and we went two men down. We had to delay it.

"At 2-2 it's a bad result for us and we're not happy. Add the injuries to Joey, which hopefully doesn’t look too bad, and Enner, which we don’t know until Friday when he has a scan but it doesn’t look good, and the frustration is bigger.

“We played good and created chances and were dangerous and lively and nice to watch, but we should defend better as a unit after Ginge went off.”

For Bilic, the frustration was further compounded when Mr Jaccottet sent him to the stands late on.

“The situation was I was not happy with his decision. If they sent Collins off, then they should have booked the player [Valerica Gaman] for his foul on Dimitri. I did not swear, definitely, but I just asked why and he sent me off.”

With the Barclays Premier League season to start at Arsenal less than 72 hours after the second leg in Romania, Bilic concluded by confirming that he will think carefully before choosing which players will make the 1,200 mile round-trip to Giurgiu.

“It was the same plan, no matter what the result is, that the majority of the players who will start against Arsenal will not participate in that game,” he explained.

“We would like to do both, but the Premier League was and is the priority for us.”