Astra 1 West Ham 1: Noble penalty not enough

Aug 19, 2016, 00:58

West Ham United are one step away from the group stages of the Europa League, as they seek vengeance when they take on Romanian side Astra Giurgiu. "I am a player who always tries to work as hard as I can and to do my best for the team", he added.

That is because a Europa League group game is scheduled for Thursday, September 29.

Several of the players who faced West Ham and went on to win in their domestic league have been sold while manager Marius Sumudica is now serving a betting-related ban. "We need to get a couple of players back", he is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. These are two very important games for West Ham United. It's a reward for a good season a year ago and only a few clubs from the Premier League are privileged to play in Europe. The Romanian league has been running for a few more weeks than the Premier League, but so far Astra have only managed a single win out of four games, conceding 6 goals along the way.

The Hammers continued to push forwards, however, and had two superb chances in about as many minutes to score, first when Michail Antonio's bullet header was cleared off the line before Reece Oxford's header flew just over the bar.

Astra beat the Hammers 2-1 in Giurgiu last season but are in some disarray this time around having lost a number of key players and their coach Marius Sumudica, who is suspended for betting on matches.

They were beaten convincingly on their previous visit, trailing from the 36th minute and offering nothing in response and, even if the inexperienced team that they fielded was a factor, firstly there is no guarantee it won't be repeated and secondly, that was only one of three consecutive losses on their European travels, with the others occurring when close to full strength in Malta and Slovenia.

"They played a good game against Copenhagen at home, drew 1-1, and what is crucial is that they are current champions of Romania".

There is a few first-team faces that will be missing from the trip to Romania, and there will also be some considerations ahead of their match with Bournemouth.

With that game looming large, you can already envisage several changes being made by Bilic for this one and with that in mind I'd much prefer to head to the longer odds of the anytime scorer market that back the Hammers at odds-on.

However, Argentinian striker Jonathan Calleri has travelled with the squad and could be involved following his loan switch from from Uruguayan club Deportivo Maldonado.

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