Ref justice for West Ham as Manchester City take advantage of soft penalty
PUBLISHED: 14:30 28 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 28 February 2019
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Valiant Hammers are denied after magnificent rearguard action
It is hard enough coming to a place like The Etihad to face the reigning Premier League champions who had just won the League Cup.
But when you do so missing one or two key players and fielding a teenager making his league debut, it was always going to be a tough ask.
And when you add to that a referee keen to award the home side the softest of penalties, it really is too much to cope with.
West Ham put in one of their best defensive displays of the season. They frustrated, they tackled and they held their shape, but in the end it was not enough.
“I feel that we lost with a penalty that was not a penalty,” said West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini.
“In the other box, if Lanzini goes to the floor maybe he can whistle there too.”
When you look at the penalty incident, it could not have been more innocuous.
Bernardo Silva stole into the box, chased by two West Ham players, and then he hesitated, enough for Felipe Anderson to stick a clumsy foot in.
There was minimal contact and if it had happened at the other end, it would almost certainly not have been given.
But this is City and they took full advantage to send Lukasz Fabianski the wrong way from the penalty spot.
“They had other chances after that, but I am not happy with the way that we lost the game,” said the boss.
Don’t get me wrong, City were by far the superior team. They passed it about delightfully, put huge pressure on the West Ham defence and on another day, they would have been two or three ahead in the first 20 minutes.
That they weren’t was due to a City lacking that killer final touch, but also a superbly organised West Ham defence who never looked like giving up.
“We know that Man City had many different moments in attacking and they have players who make the difference, but we worked well against them” said Pellegrini.
They did. Centre-backs Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna had superb games, while full-backs Ryan Fredericks and Ben Johnson held their own under extreme pressure.
And there was also Andy Carroll’s big chance. Early in the second half, substitute Manuel Lanzini played a ball across the box and the big striker’s shot was expertly saved by Ederson.
It was a great effort, the only one the Hammers managed in the game, but at least they had a go on a day that was hampered by the withdrawal of Marko Arnautovic on the morning of the match.
“Unfortunately for us Marko woke up this morning sick, so he couldn’t play,” said the manager.
“But in the review of the game I thought we played well defensively, but lost too many balls when we had possession.”
This game was never going to mean much to the outcome of West Ham’s season. The games against Newcastle, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Everton coming up will decide that.
But it was a vital one for Manchester City who were looking for an easy ride, but had to bring on the likes of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva to finally unlock the Hammers defence.
“I think Lukasz only had one save after the penalty, so I think we defended well,” said the West Ham manager.
“But we didn’t play very well with the ball, though I cannot be very unhappy with the result.”