Manager Bilic 'hammered' for fielding raw line-up

Slaven Bilic during the Uefa Europa League match between Liverpool and Besiktas at Anfield on Feb 19, 2015.
Slaven Bilic during the Uefa Europa League match between Liverpool and Besiktas at Anfield on Feb 19, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS • West Ham manager Slaven Bilic's decision to put out a young, largely inexperienced side for the second leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie at Astra Giurgiu backfired when the Romanian football side ran out 2-1 winners on Thursday.

The Hammers, who had let slip a two-goal lead and conceded a last-gasp equaliser in the first leg last week, lost 3- 4 on aggregate.

It had all started so well as a goal from debutant Manuel Lanzini inside three minutes put them ahead.

But two goals from skipper Constantin Budescu, after 33 and 36 minutes, put the Romanian side in the driving seat.

Bilic defended his decision to rest a host of first-choice players ahead of their English Premier League opener against Arsenal tomorrow.

"It is a good experience for a few of the youngsters but some of the guys who played tonight showed us they are going to be very useful," said the manager.

"We've a big season ahead of us which starts on Sunday and we're going to be good in the Premier League."

Southampton, the other English club in the fray, were already 3-0 up in their tie against Vitesse Arnhem from the first leg and cruised through 5-0 on aggregate.

Graziano Pelle's low shot after four minutes killed the tie off as a contest and Senegalese striker Sadio Mane added the final flourish a minute from the end.

The reward for beating the Dutch outfit in the third qualifying round is a meeting with Danish champions Midtjylland in the play-offs for the Europa League.

Midtjylland lost on away goals to Apoel of Cyprus in the Champions League third qualifying round.

The winners of the play-offs will join the 10 losers from the Champions League play-offs and 16 other sides who qualify directly - including Tottenham Hotspur - in the group stage draw.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline 'Manager Bilic 'hammered' for fielding raw line-up'. Subscribe