West Ham United will face a tough test in their opening game at the Olympic Stadium, after they were defeated 2-1 by NK Domzale in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League third-round qualifier. The Hammers must now win in London secure their passage through.
David defeating Goliath
Many would have expected Slaven Bilic's side to have steam rolled over their Slovenian opponents, but Domzale proved to be no pushovers and took the lead early in the first half.
It did seem to be a harsh spot-kick as they broke from Michail Antonio's error and the counter-attack ended up striking Havard Nordtveit's hand. Matic Crnic made no mistake with his penalty, but it wasn't long until the Hammers were back in the match.
Bilic's side won their own penalty, as Winston Reid was clattered from behind Axel Maraval. Captain Mark Noble made no mistake as coolly slotted home to get the crucial away goal, and his 25th consecutive Hammers penalty.
The East London outfit were made to regret not learning from their defensive mistakes after the break, as Crnic was allowed space to cut inside and coolly slot past Adrian to give the minnows the lead.
It could have been all but over right at the death if not for the Spaniard 'keeper, who produced a excellent double save, but Bilic's side still face a tough test in their curtain raiser next week.
Things to work on
One new addition to the side is youngster Sam Byram, who has been brought in for the injured Aaron Cresswell, and the former Leeds United man, shared his disappointment at the result.
He told whufc.com: "We’ve got the second leg to focus on now." Byram said the team are "disappointed to lose here as we thought we would be coming away with a result".
He continued: “There are things to work on and we can’t dwell on it now" and have to "look to the next one". The defender admitted, "They’re probably a bit fitter than us [at this stage in their season], but in all fairness we should be beating teams like that."
Byram concluded: "We have better quality and we play in one of the top divisions in the world so we’re disappointed with the result.”
West Ham United will host NK Domzale at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Thursday, August 4 with kick-off at 7:45pm BST.