MX23RW : Tuesday, January 22 23:55:38
Jul 16, 2015 at 7.45pm UK at ​London Stadium
West HamWest Ham United
1-0
Birkirkara
Tomkins (90')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Result: Wasteful West Ham United leave it late to see off minnows Birkirkara

West Ham United will take a 1-0 advantage to Malta for the second leg of their Europa League qualification tie against Birkirkara, courtesy of a late James Tomkins goal.

James Tomkins found the net in added time to ensure that a night of frustration for West Ham United ended on a positive note against Birkirkara.

With time running out, the Englishman found himself in the right place at the right time to bundle home for a Hammers side who had been wasteful up until that stage in the first leg of their Europa League second-round qualifier.

James Tomkins of West Ham celebrates after his goal during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round (first leg) match between West Ham and FC Birkirkara at the Boleyn Ground on July 16, 2015© Getty Images

The home side had an early penalty appeal turned down when Modibo Maiga went to ground inside the box, while the Mali international headed over a Matt Jarvis cross soon after.

Morgan Amalfitano was the next West Ham player to try his luck, curling the ball a yard over the bar as the Hammers continued to press for an opener in front of the 33,000-strong crowd.

Further shouts for a penalty were waved away by referee Markus Hameter to skipper Kevin Nolan's dismay on the 20-minute mark, which came just moments before Maiga tested Justin Haber with his headed attempt.

A lively Maiga was involved throughout the opening 45 minutes, again finding space to get a shot away which this time came back off the post.

Haber had plenty to do before the half was out, but the Premier League club were unable to show the quality needed in front of goal to find a way through.

Slaven Bilic of West Ham looks on during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round (first leg) match between West Ham and FC Birkirkara at the Boleyn Ground on July 16, 2015© Getty Images

Continuing from where the first half left off, Jarvis cut inside and fired a low shot away at goal, although Haber was once more able to keep the ball out with relative ease.

There was a small scare for West Ham when Mauro Zarate got caught in possession, which allowed the visitors to charge up field on the break, only for Liliu to direct his shot wayward.

Elliot Lee, the match-winner against Andorran side Lusitanos seven days ago, was brought on with 20 minutes left to play, but still the Hammers struggled in front of goal.

Mauro Zarate of West Ham is challenged by Paul French of FC Birkirkara during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round (first leg) match between West Ham and FC Birkirkara at the Boleyn Ground on July 16, 2015© Getty Images

Zarate, Jarvis and Lee himself each tried finding a way through, yet it looked as though it was going to be a hugely frustrating night for Slaven Bilic's men in the Croat's first official home game in charge.

That was until Haber misjudged the flight of a corner whipped into the box, which Tomkins chested into the net to earn West Ham a crucial first-leg lead at the death.

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Mauro Zarate of West Ham is challenged by Paul French of FC Birkirkara during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round (first leg) match between West Ham and FC Birkirkara at the Boleyn Ground on July 16, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool23193154134160
2Manchester CityMan City23182362174556
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs23170648232551
4Chelsea23145440192147
5Arsenal23135548321644
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd23135546331344
7Watford239683232033
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves239592731-432
9Leicester CityLeicester2394102929031
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2394103034-431
11Everton238693433130
12Bournemouth2393113342-930
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2375112532-726
14Crystal Palace2364132332-922
15Southampton2357112540-1522
16Burnley2364132343-2022
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2356121931-1221
18Cardiff CityCardiff2354141944-2519
19Fulham2335152151-3014
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2325161340-2711

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