West Ham scrape through on penalties in Europa League

LONDON: West Ham United, reduced to 10 men after defender James Tomkins was sent off in the first half, won 5-3 in a penalty shootout against Maltese Cup winners Birkirkara to scrape into the Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday.

The English Premier League side, who entered the competition via the Fair Play League, lost 1-0 on Thursday leaving the tie at 1-1 on aggregate with extra time failing to break the deadlock after Birkirkara were also reduced to 10 men.

West Ham scored all five of their penalties in the shootout with substitute Diego Poyet netting the winner for Slaven Bilic's side in the heat of Malta.

Tomkins, who scored a last-gasp winner in the first leg at Upton Park last week, was sent off for throwing Nikola Vukanac to the ground before halftime at the Ta' Qali National Stadium in Valletta.

West Ham now face Astra Giurgiu of Romania, who beat Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-0 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw on Thursday.

They must get through that tie plus a playoff round to reach the group stage of Europe's second-tier competition.