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Friday, July 29, 2016

West Ham lose Europa League first leg in Slovenia

Mark Noble's penalty gave West Ham an away goal that
could be crucial in next week's second leg
West Ham endured a tricky start to their season as they
lost 2-1 to NK Domzale in a Europa League qualifier in
Slovenia.
The Hammers are well placed to progress in next week's
second leg - the first competitive game at the Olympic
Stadium - thanks to Mark Noble's penalty.
But for large periods, Slaven Bilic's side were on the back
foot.
Matic Crnic put the hosts ahead from the spot and then
grabbed the winner with a fine solo goal.
Relive West Ham's defeat in Slovenia
Next week promises to be a sell-out encounter, with more
than 50,000 inside the Hammers' new home.
Noble's penalty has given West Ham an away goal that
means a 1-0 win in the home leg will take them through.
But in front of barely 3,000 in Ljubjana - the game was
moved from the home of Domzale - the Premier League side
faded badly after a bright first-half showing and looked well
short of match sharpness.
Crnic and Noble exchanged early penalties - with Domzale's
awarded for a Havard Nordtveit handball and West Ham's
for a foul on Winston Reid.
The home side then went ahead at the start of the second
half when Crnic cut in from the left and curled home.
West Ham goalkeeper Adrian had to be at his best to prevent
Amedej Vetrih from adding a third with a spectacular late
save.
The Hammers were without last season's standout player
Dimitri Payet, and while new signing Sofiane Feghouli
enjoyed an impressive start, he barely had a touch in the
second half.
And at the back Bilic looks to have problems. Michail
Antonio was at fault for Crnic's second goal and looked
fragile all night, while former Leeds full-back Sam Byram
looked makeshift on the left.
First-choice Aaron Cresswell is set to be out for four
months with a knee injury and Bilic may need to enter the
transfer market before the start of the season.
West Ham assistant manager Nikola Jurcevic:
"Our performance was not so good, and maybe I can say it
was average in the first half and it was 1-1. We were not
satisfied with this result and in the second half we played
badly.
"I am sure we will be better next week. It will be very difficult
but I'm optimistic and I hope it will be a different game in
the Olympic Stadium.
"We must be better. We must win this game in our stadium
because we also have big ambitions in Europe, but it will be
very tough because Domzale showed they are a good
team."
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