- West Ham take slender lead to Malta
- James Tomkins scores 90th minute winner
- Second leg on 23 July
James Tomkins scored a 90th-minute winner to earn West Ham United a narrow Europa League second qualifying round first leg lead over Malta's Birkirkara.
The Hammers dominated possession but failed to make it count until defender Tomkins chested home from a corner.
In front of a crowd of 33,048, Modibo Maiga hit a post for the hosts, while skipper Kevin Nolan went close with an acrobatic volley.
Birkirkara went closest through Liliu, the return leg taking place on 23 July.
|Analysis: Former West Ham midfielder John Moncur on BBC Radio London|
|"West Ham have won a game which looked like being 0-0 by nicking a goal at the end. It will be a different game away from home. Birkirkara played like it was a cup final for them. Can they work that hard again? If West Ham had won 5-0 Slaven Bilic could have left his key men at home next week but now they will all have to go to Malta."|
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic's side will have to perform better in Malta if they are to make sure of a place in the third qualifying round.
They made heavy weather of seeing off a team 318th in Uefa's club rankings - 200 places below West Ham.
Bilic made seven changes to the side that won against Lusitanos in Andorra last week, with experienced first-team players Nolan, Aaron Creswell and Winston Reid all returning.
But they lacked cutting edge and when one second-half move resulted in the ball being played back to goalkeeper Adrian, some sections of West Ham's support booed in frustration.
Mali forward Maiga could have had a hat-trick, the 27-year-old going closest when goalkeeper Justin Haber palmed his 27th-minute effort onto a post.
Maltese Cup winners Birkirkara defended in numbers and were minutes away from a memorable result when Tomkins struck.
Mauro Zarate's corner was missed by Haber, allowing Tomkins to chest over the line for his second goal in Europa League appearances this season.
- 17O'BrienBooked at 64mins
- 2ReidBooked at 82mins
- 3CresswellBooked at 69mins
- 21AmalfitanoSubstituted forSamuelsonat 59'minutes
- 4NolanSubstituted forPoyetat 79'minutes
- 20MaigaSubstituted forLeeat 70'minutes
- 6FenechSubstituted forZammitat 49'minutes
- 18LiliuSubstituted forPlutat 65'minutes
- 22MuscatBooked at 38mins
- 17MurgaSubstituted forAgiusat 45'minutes
- Markus Hameter
- Shots on Target