Poyet’s West Ham warning

The Hammers needed a penalty shoot-out to beat Maltese side Birkirkara ??? ranked 200 places below them in UEFA???s club rankings – on Thursday having slipped to a 1-0 defeat on the evening courtesy of a goal from former Juventus and Italy forward Fabrizio Miccoli.

Poyet came off the bench to score the decisive spot-kick, following a gruelling 120 minutes in which James Tomkins, who netted the winner in the first-leg at Upton Park, was sent off for a tussle with Nikola Vukanac in the penalty area.??

West Ham face Romania’s Astra Giurgiu in the third qualifying round and Poyet says he and his team-mates will need to produce a better performance to reach the play-off stage of the competition.??

“The most important thing was to get through and we did it,” the 20-year-old told the club’s official website.

“It was obviously tough going a goal down and then going down to 10 men as well before half-time.

“We need to be careful, the further we progress the harder the games will be, so I don’t know how many times we’ll get away with it. But we’re obviously very pleased to get through again.”

Having seen off Birkirkara and Lusitans of Andorra in previous rounds, West Ham continue to come up against teams they know little about – and Poyet believes that could also cause problems as they face Astra, who saw off Inverness Caledonian Thistle in round two.

“Astra is another game in the unknown, we don’t know what to expect,” he added.

“We’ve got to learn from the two games, the things we’ve done well and the things we’ve done wrong, against this type of opposition.

“We want to win at home and away, get through and see what happens. We have to start off well, get ahead and take it to their place, but we need to be in the lead.”