Europa League: West Ham United - Astra Giurgiu 25 August 2016 20:45

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Europa League: West Ham United - Astra Giurgiu 25 August 2016 20:45

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Europa League: West Ham United - Astra Giurgiu

On Thursday, the game between West Ham United and the reigning Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu will be one of the most interesting affairs of the second leg of the Europa League fourth qualifying round. The English favourites were close to claiming a win in the first duel as they were leading 1:0 for most of the game but the Romanians came up with a late leveller, holding the Hammers to a 1:1 draw. This result still favours the English side to progress to the group stage but Astra are sure to put up a strong fight at the Olympic Stadium – just like they did last year when they eliminated West Ham in the third qualifying round of the tournament.

West Ham United

After knocking out the Slovenian side NK Domazle in the third qualifying round (4:2 on aggregate), West Ham continue their quest for a maiden Europa League crown by taking on the Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu in the final qualifier. It was the very same opponent who surprisingly put an end to the Hammers´ European campaign last year so this time, the team´s coach Bilic is planning for a different outcome of the tie. To make sure not to underestimate the Romanians again, he brought his strongest (yet significantly injury-depleted) team to Romania for the opening duel. When Mark Noble put West Ham ahead from the penalty spot in the 45th minute after a dominant first half, they looked to be on course for a comfortable win. However, the Irons failed to increase their lead and with just seven minutes remaining until the end of the game, Astra smashed in an equaliser via Denis Alibec. The 1:1 draw is still quite a promising result for the West Ham but they will need to deliver a solid performance in the home rematch to clinch the progression.

Astra Giurgiu

The reigning Romanian champions, Astra began their current campaign in the Champions League where they faced FC Copenhagen in the third qualifying round. After a 1:1 draw in the first leg, Astra were defeated 0:3 in the away rematch, failing to progress to the next round. Instead, Giurgiu were sent to the Europa League fourth qualifier where they were pitted against the same opponent like the last year. Back in August 2015, Giurgiu impressed with a confident and strong performance in both matches, earning a surprising 4:3 aggregate win over their English rivals. Astra were planning to replicate this daring feat this year but the team are not in their best shape right now. The result they produced against West Ham in the first leg might not look bad but the showing they put in was rather unconvincing. In the domestic league, Astra have been doing even worse. With just four points out of the first five games, Giurgiu are currently sitting as low as in the 12th spot, having suffered a crushing 1:5 defeat at the hands of Cluj in the last league match.


West Ham United will be hosting Astra Giurgiu for the second leg of their Europa League qualifying series in what will be the second competitive match played at the newly opened Olympic Stadium in London. The Hammers are looking to avenge the shocking defeat they suffered at the hands of Astra last year. Well aware of what their Romanian rivals are capable of, the English side are certain not to take this affair lightly. Will they meet the expectations and claim a win in this interesting match? Or will it be Astra who will make it to the Europa League group stage? We will know by Thursday night.
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