Bilic demands West Ham show ‘character’; rues Antonio miss

Date published: Friday 19th August 2016 8:51

Slaven Bilic: Manager confident of progression

Slaven Bilic is confident West Ham have the quality to qualify for the Europa League despite their latest bout of Giurgiu jitters.

The Hammers were held 1-1 by Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu in the first leg of their Europa League play-off after Mark Noble’s penalty was cancelled out by a late Denis Alibec equaliser.

And Bilic gave his players a blunt message ahead of the return leg at London Stadium next Thursday.

He said: “The score is very simple – if we can’t beat them at home then we shouldn’t be in the Europa League.”

West Ham were beaten by the same opposition in the qualifiers last season, although Bilic picked a far stronger line-up this time around despite a lengthy injury list.

Noble fired the Hammers ahead from the spot on the stroke of half-time following a handball, but Astra substitute Alibec crashed in the leveller seven minutes from time.

West Ham have now not beaten Giurgiu in three attempts in just over a year and boss Bilic was left to count the cost of Michail Antonio’s miss moments before they equalised.

Youngster Marcus Browne broke through on goal but opted to square the ball to Antonio, who could only slide it into the side-netting.

“When you concede late you of course are not happy, especially when you know we had a glorious chance on the counter-attack, and we could and should have put the game to bed,” added Bilic.

“And instead of 2-0 and killing the game, they get a corner a minute later and score from it.

“But under the circumstances, with the pitch and the team we had out there, it’s a good result. We should create more on a better pitch, which ours will be.

“We have to cope without moaning in this period. We are strong, we have to show character and quality.”

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