Payet impressed by Boleyn atmosphere

Dimitri Payet says the famous Boleyn Ground more than lived up to expectation as he enjoyed a dramatic home debut in Thursday’s 2-2 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round draw with Astra Giurgiu.      

The Frenchman was instrumental in guiding Slaven Bilic’s men to a 2-0 lead against the Romanian outfit, before James Collins’ dismissal saw the hosts’ evening unravel in the latter stages.   

Payet had been warned to expect something special from a night at the Boleyn Ground and the 28-year-old was not disappointed. The Frenchman sparkled under the lights but reckons he is still just warming to the task. 

“I was expecting a special atmosphere and it's truly an English stadium, as they say, with a great atmosphere,” he told West Ham TV. “Honestly, it was a great pleasure to have started here and I am very happy. 

“It's my third match, I'm still short of a bit of rhythm, a bit of sharpness, but that's going to come. It's good, but you must always do better.”   

Despite an ultimately disappointing scoreline, Payet, who was the architect of Enner Valencia’s headed opener, insists the Hammers should take heart from the manner in which they controlled proceedings for an hour. 

And with West Ham heading to Romania at two apiece next week, he is adamant that all is by no means lost.  

He continued: “The positive is that before the sending off we had the game in our hands. The red card weakened us and allowed them to grow in confidence and we finish with a 2-2. 

“It's always complicated with ten men. What we have to remember, beyond this game, is that until the red card we were controlling the opposition with two goals scored, so we have to hold onto that. 

“At 2-0 at home, we weren't put in any danger up until that point. It [the red card] woke them up and it weakened us. 

“We've still got the return leg. It's certainly going to be difficult, we're playing away from home, but we'll be all square numerically. It's down to us to do as we did here, to impose our game and to do what we must to qualify.” 

For supporters without a 15/16 Season Ticket and who have not been invited to attend a Reservation Centre appointment, joining the New Stadium Season Ticket Priority List is now the only way to guarantee priority for the Hammers’ first season on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.