Slaven Bilic backs Hammers to progress


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Slaven Bilic is confident West Ham will book their place in the group stage of the Europa League when they face Astra Giurgiu on Thursday.

The Hammers took the lead through a Mark Noble penalty last week in Romania before a late strike from Denis Alibec earned the home team a draw.

It means the tie is evenly balanced heading into the return leg at the London Stadium, as the sides look to book their place in Friday’s draw for the group stage.

West Ham won their opening Premier League game at their new ground 1-0 against Bournemouth on Sunday but will be hoping for a more complete performance against Astra.

Having also produced a disjointed display in the opening leg, Bilic knows it is about time his side start playing to their potential.

The Croatian manager admits his side were left frustrated by last week’s showing in Romania but believes they should not fear their rivals heading into the return fixture, as he feels they are the clear favourites to progress.

“We were not totally happy with our performance in the first leg but we still came away with a 1-1 draw and if we want to qualify we have to beat Astra at home,” he told a press conference.

“We should be confident and I expect us to win. “We should enter this game with that state of mind knowing it is one game and everything is possible.

I expect us to build our confidence and to play a good game and beat Astra.”

West Ham are currently the 1.30 clear favourites to win on Thursday, with the draw 5.00 and Astra the 9.00 outsiders.

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