NK Domzale 2, West Ham United 1: No panic for skipper Mark Noble despite shock loss to Slovenian minnows

Ross McLean
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West Ham United - Training Session
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West Ham skipper Mark Noble refused to panic despite his side slumping to a sluggish defeat against Slovenian minnows NK Domzale in their Europa League third qualifying round first leg clash.

With boss Slaven Bilic serving a touchline ban, the Hammers were twice undone by former Maribor winger Matic Crnic, who exchanged penalties with Noble in the first half before netting the winner early in the second period.

Despite the scoreline against a side which finished third in Slovenia’s top flight last season, West Ham are well placed to progress to the play-off stage of the competition when they make their Olympic Stadium debut in next week’s second leg.

“It’s not over and we’ll take them back to our place next week,” said Noble. “We know what we’ve got to do and that’s win the game.

“We’ve got a good enough team to come here and win but we didn’t do that. We didn’t play well, so we’ll have to play well in the second leg.”

Domzale, making their first appearance in Europe, surged into an early lead when West Ham debutant Havard Nordtveit was adjudged to have handled and Crnic smashed the resulting spot-kick past goalkeeper Adrian.

The Hammers were quick to reply and levelled seven minutes later as Noble tucked home a penalty, netting a potentially crucial away goal in the process, after defender Winston Reid had been felled by Domzale stopper Axel Maraval.

Noble’s equaliser, however, proved temporary relief as the hosts regained the lead moments after the restart. Crnic, with full-back Michail Antonio out of position, curled a low effort beyond Adrian.