Astra Giurgiu 1-1 West Ham United: Hammers frustrated by late Alibec equaliser

West Ham United were held 1-1 by Astra Giurgiu in their Europa League play-off

Astra Giurgiu 1-1 West Ham United: Hammers frustrated by late Alibec equaliser
Above: West Ham's James Collins and Mark Nolbe looking disappointed after Astra Giurgiu's equaliser in their 1-1 draw | Photo: BPI/Michael Zemanek
ASTRA GIURGIU
1 1
WEST HAM UNITED
ASTRA GIURGIU: LUNG, VANGJELI (ALIBEC, MIN. 58), ALVES, DORNELLAS, MORIAS, SAPUNARU, LOVIN, IONITA (FLOREA, MIN. 85), SETO, TEIXEIRA (BALAURE, MIN. 90+4), NICULAE
WEST HAM UNITED: RANDOLPH, BYRAM, OXFORD, OGBONNA, BURKE, OBIANG, NOBLE, TORE (BROWNE, MIN. 75), ANTONIO, CALLERI (CARROLL, MIN. 63), VALENCIA (COLLINS, MIN. 63)
SCORE: 0-1, MIN. 45, NOBLE (PEN) 1-1, MIN. 83, ALIBEC
REFEREE: ARTUR SORAES DIAS BOOKED BYRAM (MIN. 41) SAPUNARU (MIN. 44) VANGJELI (MIN. 56) ALVES (MIN. 69) OXFORD (MIN. 78) ALIBEC (MIN. 84) ANTONIO (MIN. 90)

West Ham United were left frustrated on another European night, with a late goal from Denis Alibec seeing them draw 1-1 with Astra Giurgiu.

Slaven Bilic's side were dominant throughout the first period, with a handful of chances for Jonathan Calleri and Michail Antonio, before Mark Noble converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The second half couldn't live up to the same expectations, with Antonio missing an excellent opportunity, before Alibec shared the spoils.

Above: Michail Antonio in action in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: Getty Images
Above: Michail Antonio in action in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: Getty Images

Starting on the right foot

The Hammers stand just one stage away from the group stages of the Europa League, having defeated NK Domzale.

However they were coming up against the side that defeated them in the third-round play-off last season, but this time around the Hammers got off to a positive start.

Their first opportunity came 10 minutes in, from new signing Calleri, who had recently completed his loan move, and had traveled to Romania with the squad.

Noble played a great over-the-top ball to the Argentine, who just managed to get a flick to it which forced Silviu Lung into a save at his near post.

Antonio went even closer just four minutes, loanee signing Gokhan Tore, produced a great corner which found the head of the winger which was cleared off the line by Filipe Teixeira.

After saving his side, Teixeira had his side's first effort of the night, but Darren Randolph did well to save at the near post.

Above: Mark Noble converting his penalty in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: BPI/Michael Zemanek
Above: Mark Noble converting his penalty in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: BPI/Michael Zemanek

Taking a vital lead

The Hammers continued to try and break down their opponents defence, as the match entered the final five minutes of the half.

Calleri had proven dangerous throughout his West Ham debut, and was at it again as he got his head to another dangerous ball, but Lung produced an excellent point-blank save to keep it out.

Bilic's charges eventually took a deserving lead on the stroke of half-time, and it came in strange circumstances.

Antonio did well to get to the by-line and looked to get a ball into a dangerous area, Cristian Sapunaru attempted to block the effort by diving in but hand first, which gave referee Artur Soares Dias no option but to award the penalty.

Noble stepped up, and it was clear from his first step that he would convert, and did so by sending it straight down the middle, which took his penalty conversion for the Hammers to 28 out of 31.

Above: Denis Alibee celebrating his late goal in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: BPI/Michael Zemanek
Above: Denis Alibee celebrating his late goal in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: BPI/Michael Zemanek

Made to pay

The second period certainly didn't have the same intensity, but the Hammers had an excellent opportunity to round-up the win eight minutes from time.

Young substitute Marcus Browne made an instant impact, as he produced an excellent run into the area before pulling it back for Antonio, but the winger smashed it agonisingly into the side-netting.

Antonio was made to rue his opportunity, as Giurgiu scored their equaliser just 98 seconds later.

It was a poor one to concede from a defensive stance. Teixeira played a hopeful corner in, and Alibec did well to get the best of James Collins to turn home the cross at the far post.

West Ham United will take on AFC Bournemouth at the London Stadium on Sunday, August 21 with kick-off at 4pm BST.