West Ham face a daunting task to rescue this tie in next week’s second leg in Romania and may have to do so without Valencia, who suffered a potentially nasty injury.
But Collins was dismissed after being shown two yellows in four minutes and Fernando Boldrin pulled a goal back before Angelo Ogbonna’s own goal levelled it up.
More controversy came as Maiga’s claims for a last-gasp penalty fell on deaf ears, with Payet booked for his remonstrations and Bilic sent from his technical area for his own complaints – the Croatian also knowing his side have it all to do next week.
Valencia was starting his first game since returning from Copa America duty.
“I am anxious”, said Hammers manager Slaven Bilic after the 2-2 draw. “And this is the reason I am unhappy tonight”.
With Andy Carroll still sidelined, the Hammers could be forced into the transfer market if their worst fears over Valencia are realised. “This one was totally different than the one in Andorra with Sakho or Tomkins in Malta. Putting pen to paper is a dream come true for me”, Dobson said.
Thursday’s game turned after James Collins’ second yellow card, and Astra rallied from two goals down to draw. 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 risky. “That is really important for a young person and I am looking forward to working under him”.
Bilic told BBC Sport: “We definitely played well in the first hour, but the game lasts 90 minutes and we had to react better to going down to ten men”.
Despite their negative approach to the tie, it was Astra who nearly took the lead as former West Brom midfielder Filipe Teixeira saw his drilled effort whistle inches wide of Adrian’s goal.
“We are not panicking, we are good”, he said. “We expected a lot of pressure from the fans so we were a bit afraid”.
“He was my number one target and I am grateful to the chairman that we got him”. There is a strong possibility that may happen after he was sent from the dugout in the closing stages to compound the dismissal of James Collins, who became the third player to be sent off during the Europa League qualifiers.
West Ham look set to mix their big-name summer signings into a Europa League matchday squad for the first time.