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Bilic to support Manchester United in FA Cup final after missing out on Europa League place

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic remains hopeful his side can still qualify for next season’s Europa League despite losing 2-1 at Stoke City in their closing Premier League match.

Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead after 22 minutes, firing in on the turn after a Manuel Lanzini corner, but wasted opportunities proved costly as Stoke battled back after the interval.

Giannelli Imbula brought the hosts level with a superb drive and, after Glenn Whelan twice cleared efforts off the line, substitute Mame Biram Diouf headed in Charlie Adam’s corner with two minutes to go to take the points.

Victory would have sealed a top-six finish for West Ham, but they are now reliant on Manchester United beating Crystal Palace in next weekend’s FA Cup final to ensure European football is on show at their new home in Stratford.

“I expect Manchester United to win the FA Cup,” said Bilic, whose side will finish seventh.

“It’s going to be hard but they go into the final as favourites. I’ll be a fan for 90 minutes.”

Bilic accepted it was disappointing for his side to lose at the Britannia Stadium after missing a glut of chances to secure the points.

“Frustration is the feeling I have. It was the last game and we needed to win but we didn’t do it.” he said. 

“I am disappointed. It’s difficult to take because we were the better team for the majority of the game but we didn’t take our chances. 

“We were dominant for long periods in a difficult away game but we are disappointed to lose sixth place on the final day.

“I want to congratulate Stoke because they didn’t steal it, they just took their chances. I said to the boys at half-time that if it was basketball we would be 15-20 points up and we should have been 3-0 up and cruising.”

Bilic was nevertheless happy with the progress West Ham have made this season.

“Of course it was a great season for us,” the Croatian said. “At the start there were so many question marks with a new manager and new players.

“Now we go into the new stadium and we are one of the biggest sides in the league. That gives us confidence.”

Sun 15 May, 2016
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