Slaven Bilic praised the patience of his West Ham side after they left it late to beat Birkirkara 1-0 in the first leg of Thursday’s UEFA Europa League second round qualifying tie.
West Ham were frustratingly kept at bay by the Maltese outfit for the majority of the Upton Park clash, which marked Bilic’s first competitive home game as manager.
However, Birkirkara goalkeeper Justin Haber – who had an otherwise flawless evening – failed to deal with a Mauro Zarate corner in the 90th minute and James Tomkins nodded home from close range.
Bilic expected Birkirkara to attempt to frustrate West Ham, and was happy that his side kept going until the final whistle to get the result.
“We knew that it was going to be like this and we had to be on one hand quick, and on the other hand patient,” he told West Ham’s official website.
“We knew they were going to be with the whole team behind the ball, they were going to waste time and they were going to keep the ball.
“I was really pleased with the way we played in the first half. We were just missing a little bit of quality up front.
“In the second half I wanted the ball to go wide and get around them and make them tired, create better crosses or go inside the box.
“In the last 15 minutes we started to do it again and we had a few chances and shots and corners and in the end we scored the goal.”
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