Romanian side Astra Giurgiu blocked West Ham’s entry into the Europa League group stage for the second season in succession after clinching a smash-and-grab 1-0 win in London to earn a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
Filipe Teixeira struck the only goal to send the minnows through to the group stage and eliminate the Hammers, just as they did in the third qualifying round last season.
Having held a slight advantage from the first-leg, Slaven Bilic’s side was clearly set-up to contain the visitors but were left stunned when Teixeira put Astra ahead on the stroke of half-time.
The Hammers piled on the pressure on in the second-period but missed a hatful of chances as Romanian goalkeeper Silviu Lung produced a Man of the Match performance.
The best chance fell to substitute Ashley Fletcher whose shot from inside the penalty area was brilliantly saved on 72 minutes.
Winston Reid, wearing the captain’s armband in place of Mark Noble who was rested, missed a sitter minutes earlier when he headed wide from six yards.
It proved to be an incredibly frustrating evening for West Ham as their slow start to the season continues. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Manchester City on Sunday to negotiate.
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