Europa League: Bilic bullish as Hammers eliminated

 
Frank Dalleres
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ASTRA GIURGIU 2 WEST HAM UNITED 1

ASTRA WIN 4-3 ON AGGREGATE

WEST Ham manager Slaven Bilic insists he remains confident of a strong Premier League campaign despite crashing out of Europe last night to unheralded Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.

A second-string Hammers team paid the price for letting another lead slip as two goals from captain Constantin Budescu eclipsed on-loan midfielder Manuel Lanzini’s early strike for the visitors.

Bilic rested all of the starting XI from the first leg of the Europa League third qualifying round tie, which they led 2-0 but drew 2-2, as he prepares for Sunday’s domestic opener at Arsenal.

“Obviously we are disappointed to have gone out. We had some youngsters in the team but mostly players we’ll count on,” he said. “We have a big season ahead of us which starts on Sunday and we are going to be good in the Premier League. I am very confident about that.”

European elimination significantly reduces West Ham’s fixture burden but is an early blow to the tenure of Bilic, who has drawn one and lost two of his first six competitive matches.

Argentinian Lanzini fired home at the near post inside three minutes but Budescu levelled with a low drive half an hour later and soon afterwards scored the winner.