West Ham manager Slaven Bilic took an optimistic view of his side’s 3-2 defeat at Southampton despite them coming within seconds of an unlikely away draw.
The Hammers were two goals and a man down prior to half-time but launched a spirited fightback at St Mary’s, pulling level late in the match thanks to Javier Hernandez’s first two goals for the club.
Marko Arnautovic’s early red card meant a result was always going to be hard to come by and it proved that way as Charlie Austin’s 93rd-minute penalty consigned Bilic’s side to a second defeat in two Premier League games.
Despite the disappointment, Bilic was proud of the way his team fought to remain in the contest.
“We lost a point but we gained a lot of things,” he said on Sky Sports. “We showed character, we showed quality, we showed that we can cope with 10 men, that we can score two goals, and that we can stop [the opposition] from scoring.
“To be fair we also started well, we had two or three chances to take the lead and we didn’t.
“But it’s a very disappointing way to lose the game in the end.”
Slaven praises his men… pic.twitter.com/mR1DQlH7MK
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) August 19, 2017
Bilic refused to be drawn on Arnautovic’s red card, awarded after the Austrian elbowed Jack Stephens, but he did praise Hernandez for his performance.
“He didn’t only score goals, he showed great enthusiasm and great defensive work rate,” Bilic said.
“He’s a goalscorer but in the second half he also had to play on the wing, because we needed the legs.
“We had to have two banks of four, sometimes even six when they bombed on with the full-backs.
“I’m very proud of my team. We never gave up.”