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 Romanians 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, went out 4-3 on aggregate.
It had all started so well as a goal from debutant Manuel Lanzini inside three minutes put them ahead.
But two quick goals in three minutes from skipper Constantin Budescu, after 33 and 36 minutes, put the Romanians in the driving seat.
Bilic defended his decision to rest a host of first-choice players ahead of their Premier League opener against Arsenal on Sunday.
“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 Bilic.
“We have a big season ahead of us which starts on Sunday and we are going to be good in the Premier League. I am very confident about that.”
Borussia Dortmund, who were Champions League runners-up in 2013, eased into Friday s play-off draw with a 5-0 mauling of Wolfsberg of Austria for a 6-0 aggregate.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbed the headlines with a hat-trick in 13 second-half minutes.
Southampton were already 3-0 up in their tie against Vitesse Arnhem from the first leg and cruised through 5-0 on aggregate after 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 result was slightly tainted by news that Dutch police made 53 arrests in Arnhem before the game.
But for once it was not just English supporters who were rounded up, as reports suggested that 50 of those detained in the city s bar district, where opposing fans had apparently been drinking together peacefully, were Dutch and only three of them English.
Walter Zenga s Sampdoria were also losers against Vojvodina of Serbia despite winning their second leg 2-0. But their shock 4-0 defeat on home turf last week proved too great a deficit to recover.
Aberdeen were held 1-1 by Kazakh side Kairat Almaty and went out 3-2 on aggregate.
Gerard Gohou opened the scoring after 59 minutes for the visitors and although Kenny McLean levelled on the night, the Dons could not find the second goal that would have seen them take the tie into extra-time.
Athletic Bilbao did just enough to reach the play-offs by holding Inter Baku of Azerbaijan 0-0.
Having done the hard part in the home leg last week, they moved into Friday s draw 2-0 on aggregate.
Rubin Kazan of Russia came into their second leg against seasoned European campaigners Sturm Graz 3-2 up from the away leg and survived a brief scare when Josip Tadic put the Austrians ahead on the night.
But it was left to captain Oleg Kuzmin to steady the ship five minutes from the end with an equaliser which left it 1-1 to send Kazan through 4-3 on aggregate.