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West Ham Utd 2-2 Astra Giurgiu

Filed: Friday, 31st July 2015
By: Staff Writer

West Ham will have to recall the spirit of Metz if they are to proceed any further in this year's Europa League.

The Hammers know they have to get a result in Romania if they are to continue beyond the third qualifying round after SLaven Bilic's side saw a two-goal lead disappear within minutes of James Collins' second half dismissal for a second yellow card.

And Bilic will no doubt be calling upon the side to repeat the heroic performance of 15 years ago in France, when West Ham overturned a 1-0 deficit in the first leg at the Boleyn Ground.

It had looked so good for the Hammers as they raced into a 2-0 lead. The opening goal arrived midway through the first half via the head of the returning Enner Valencia, who converted a deep Dimitri Payet cross from close range.

Sadly the Ecuador international's night was curtailed shortly after when he was stretchered off the pitch following a challenge that left him nursing a leg injury - moments after Joey O'Brien had been replaced through injury.

Despite that double blow, West Ham doubled their advantage six minutes into the second half when Mauro Zarate dribbled past four players before converting his first ever goal at the Boleyn Ground - much to the delight of the Argentine forward.

It should have been plain sailing for West Ham from then on but James Collins - already cautioned for an earlier misdemeanor - saw himself become the THIRD West Ham player to be dismissed in this season's Europa League programme for a ill-judged challenge on Budescu, who seconds earlier had been lucky to escape with just a booking himself for a dreadful lunge on Payet.

Astra, down and seemingly out at that point sniffed their moment of opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Fernando Boldrin halved the deficit when he took advantage of a poor clearance by Zarate to smash home the visitors' first off the underside of Adrian's crossbar.

But there was even worse to follow for West Ham when new signing Angelo Ogbonna stretched for a deep delivery but could only send the ball looping over Adrian's head into the far corner of the net, just eight minutes from the end of normal time.

West Ham now travel to Romania - just 72 hours ahead of the Premier League kick off at Arsenal - knowing they must either win or score at least twice to stand any chance of making the final play off round.

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