West Ham boss Slaven Bilic was unhappy that Michail Antonio’s miss proved so costly in the drawn first leg of their Europa League play-off against Astra.
The visitors took the lead in Romania through Mark Noble’s penalty just before half-time and Antonio spurned a glorious chance to make it 2-0 in the second half, hitting the side-netting with the goal gaping after being teed up by Marcus Browne.
Denis Alibec levelled just two minutes later, firing high past Darren Randolph after being allowed time to control the ball following a corner, setting up a tense second leg at London Stadium next week.
Although Bilic remains confident that West Ham will complete the job at home, he conceded that Antonio’s miss was pivotal.
“We are disappointed with the equaliser because we probably had the game under control,” he said. “They put us under pressure and took risks, which gave us space up front.
“They scored a good goal, but from a set-piece, which is cheap from our point of view. And it made it especially hard to take because a couple of minutes before we had a clear-cut chance when Marcus Browne went on a great counter-attack.
“We should have scored and put the game to bed, but we didn’t and it’s 1-1 so we’re not happy with the result, but it’s not a bad result because we had a mixed team. I’m confident about next week.
“We got ahead and then they put two strikers on and took risks and they put us under pressure in the last 20 minutes, but they left space and we had a great, great chance, but unfortunately we missed it.
“As I said, we have a good result and with the greatest respect to them we should beat them, but we still have to do it. Anything can happen in one game, of course, but we are hungry to play in European football.”
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