Europa League
West Ham United 2-2 Astra Giurgiu 

Thursday, 30th 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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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
No chance with the goal and dealt with what little other threat that there was quite comfortably.

Joey O Brien
Too casual on the ball. Got caught out of position a couple of times and needs to work on his crossing when going forward.

Aaron Cresswell
Tried to keep things moving out on the left but often had no options.

James Collins
Ok defensively but his distribution is always going to function at a more basic level. Stupid booking.

James Tomkins
Silly boy. His reaction gave his marker the chance to con the ref and could have cost us, especially as he constituted our main goal threat from corners.

Cheikhou Kouyate
I?EUR(TM)ll give him MOTM by default as he slipped back into central defence without missing a beat after Tomkins left.

Mark Noble
Wasteful with the ball and needs to be careful not to get wound up in these matches ?EUR" he was only one rush of blood to the head away from a red for much of the match.

Morgan Amalfitano
Pretty anonymous I?EUR(TM)m afraid.

Matt Jarvis
Tried to get things going on both flanks but ws let down far too often by his delivery.

Kevin Nolan
Yes it was hot out there but he didn?EUR(TM)t look fit to me. Best contribution was to calm down Noble when he was I danger of losing the plot.

Mauro Zarate
Infuriating. Continues to disappear down blind alleys with alarming regularity. Which is a shame because there is undoubted skill in there, just waiting for a football brain to develop to use it.


Modibo Maiga
(Replaced Noble) I feel quite sorry for him. He must have thought that the days of being used as a lone striker (a role to which he is ill-suited) had disappeared along with the last manager. Sadly while we have injury and suspensions he?EUR(TM)s destined to be stuck in the job until a new striker comes in the front door.

Diego Poyet
(Replaced Nolan) Bright outing in the second half. He ws at least trying something different.

Martin Samuelsen
(Replaced Jarvis 118) Hard to mark as he came on and the final whistle went seconds later.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Stephen Hendrie
Did not play.

Alex Pike
Did not play.

Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Joey O Brien, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins, James Tomkins, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Morgan Amalfitano, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, Mauro Zarate.

Goals: None.

Booked: James Collins           .

Sent Off: James Tomkins 45    .

Astra Giurgiu: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: n/a.

Sent off: None.

Referee: tbc.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Mauro Zarate.