West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has admitted his side need to improve their discipline if they are to progress into the group stages of the Europa League (West Ham 66/1 – Europa League Outright).
The Hammers (13/8 – Top ten Premier League finish) took a two-goal lead at Upton Park on Thursday night after they made a blistering start. Striker Enner Valencia opened the scoring before Mauro Zarate doubled the Hammers’ advantage.
However, Bilic then lost Valencia to injury and the former Croatia boss admitted it didn’t look good. Defender Joey O’Brien was also injured but the tie took a turn for the worst when centre-back James Collins was sent off.
Astra then took full advantage as they earned a draw ahead of the return leg next week. Collins’ sending-off was West Ham’s third red card in just five matches in the Europa League, while Bilic was also later sent to the stands.
Ahead of next week’s tie, Bilic admits his team must improve their discipline record if they are to have any chance of progressing.
He said: “We gave three red cards in three rounds – it is too much. This one was totally different than the one in Andorra with (Diafra) Sakho or (James) Tomkins in Malta.
“This was professional and it was too harsh to be fair but I can’t blame the referee for the decision and I can’t blame James Collins for that, the situation was very dangerous.”
On the result overall, he added: “They (Astra) have a good result. If we play like we did in the first 60 minutes next week we definitely have a chance to go through, but if we are going to get another red card it is better we stay here.”