Wounded West Ham denied win by Murray, VAR and their own defending
PUBLISHED: 13:30 03 February 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Manager Moyes left angry at some comical defending by his team as they drop into relegation zone
Perhaps we should be used to it by now. When VAR was introduced, Hammers fans welcomed it as it may put right some of the injustices they suffered the previous season.
Now it is clear that it is doing quite the opposite.
How on this earth can VAR have disallowed Michail Antonio's goal at Southampton and Declan's Rice run and pass to Robert Snodgrass at Sheffield United and yet they allowed Glenn Murray's equaliser on Saturday?
Much of what happened to the Hammers on Saturday was self-inflicted. The defending was truly scandalous at times, but not that equaliser, not that decision.
Referee Michael Oliver had disallowed it and it seemed that the VAR check was going to be a formality.
"When I first went over I was told it was handball and I had a feeling that this is going to be all right," said manager David Moyes afterwards.
"Then suddenly, it changed. I've seen the goal, but I've not looked closely at his control."
Ian Wright on Match of the Day was firmly part of the strikers' union as he said it wasn't handball, but he said it with a smirk on his face which made it barely credible.
The surprose was that Moyes was not more vociferous about it. He was more annoyed at the defending of his team who led by two goals twice, but let it slip.
"I'm more disappointed at my defender than I am with VAR," he said.
"VAR should never have been even close to being involved as we should have cleared it and it should have been easy. It's nearly as bad as the second goal.
"The defending was like comedy for the three goals. Their second goal gave them the encouragement as at 3-1 we were really comfortable."
Bournemouth had beaten Brighton 3-1 a couple of weeks ago and this should have been the same result, but West Ham simply self-destructed.
Moyes took off Michaail Antonio for Arthur Masuaku and things fell apart.
There was no-one holding the ball up and giving the Brighton defence trouble and Masuaku twice failed to clear as Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna then comically left the ball to each other and allowed Pascal Gross to nip in for the second goal.
It was as bad as anything the Hammers have conceded all season and it was heartbreaking as they had played some great stuff in getting ahead.
"I thought we'd done an awful lot of good things and it has been tarnished by a couple of mistakes," said Moyes. "For lots of periods of the game our performance was good.
"We were 3-1 up, 2-0 up at one point as well and we offered a threat at different times, although so did they."
In any battle against relegation you need some luck and it was certainly mixed in this game. Robert Snodgrass hit two shots which were deflected in, but at the other end, Murray seemed to foul Lukasz Fabianski for their first goal, which came back off Ogbonna's head and in.
And then came that equaliser!
This really was a six-pointer for West Ham and the fact that they were in a winning position on two occasions will certainly hurt.
There is still a long way to go, but now the Hammers are in the bottom three for the first time this season and now face trips to Manchester City and Liverpool, it is going to be a tough battle to get out of it.
Another Great Escape anybody?
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