|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
VAR denies West Ham point against Blades after goalkeeping woes return
Aaron Bower at Bramall Lane
Date Published Fri 10 Jan 2020 21.59 GMT
If David Moyes was not already convinced that West Ham have deep-rooted goalkeeping issues to resolve in order to survive this season, he will be now. The fact the Hammers continue to pursue a return for Darren Randolph despite the Republic of Ireland international being injured perhaps emphasised Moyes knew the extent of those problems already, but either way, they were brutally laid out for him here.
Of course that was not the whole story on a dramatic night at Bramall Lane. It seems no Premier League game of significance is complete without a cameo from VAR these days – the fact that this intervention came deep into added time to deny West Ham an equaliser Moyes felt they deserved will have done little to appease him following the end of his unbeaten start in charge.
When Robert Snodgrass seemingly scored in injury time, it sparked chaotic scenes among both the away supporters, while Moyes raced down the touchline to celebrate what seemed to be another important point for his new side. However, with the much-maligned handball law enforced by VAR after determining Declan Rice had handled in the build-up, the goal was disallowed. Naturally, Moyes was unhappy afterwards.
“It was a good goal to me,” he said. “It looks like a law nobody is enjoying too much, but it looks like there’s a few laws nobody is enjoying too much.” But this was a night with other problems away from VAR too. Lukasz Fabianski suffering a recurrence of the injury which had kept him out for three months – again while taking a goal kick – would have been bad enough.
However the fact that his replacement, and the man who is now their only fit senior goalkeeper, gift-wrapped Sheffield United the winner here will have been doubly hard to take. David Martin’s rushed pass was intended for Fabián Balbuena; instead, it found its way to John Fleck who kept his nerve, squared for Oli McBurnie and allowed the Blades to move up to fifth with the game’s only goal.
“It’s the biggest three points of the season,” said Chris Wilder, who on the day of agreeing a contract extension to 2024, admitted he had sympathy for his opposite number. “To get to 32 points at this stage is great but I feel a bit deflated because that’s happened to us two or three times this season. What their manager has felt, I’ve felt.” All that second-half drama, culminating in Snodgrass’s disallowed equaliser, thankfully overshadowed a fairly forgettable first half.
There were few gilt-edged opportunities for either side in the opening 45 minutes, with the best falling to Felipe Anderson, who fired wide after sneaking through on goal. Moyes had opted to match the home side up tactically and while it certainly produced some resilience, it ultimately offered little going forward.
Fabianski’s departure – “It looks like a recurrence of the same injury, we’ll have to get the tests done over the weekend,” Moyes said – was the one real talking point: and it turned out to be decisive. When Martin’s sloppy pass led to McBurnie’s fourth of the season, it forced the visitors into a tactical change. Snodgrass came on, West Ham reverted to a back four and with his first touch, his free-kick saw Sébastien Haller score – only to be disallowed by the offside flag. At the other end, Wilder’s side had chances to kill the game, and their profligacy in that regard looked as though it would hurt them deep into injury time.
Rice surged forward, played in Snodgrass and he drove past Dean Henderson. That sparked delirium in the away end but of course, there was one final act to be written by Stockley Park. Moyes had barely stopped celebrating by the time VAR concluded that John Egan heading the ball into Rice’s arm constituted handball, which in turn produced the loudest cheer of the night for home supporters.
The night began with West Ham supporters taunting the home side with Carlos Tevez chants, owing to the infamous chapter of history between the clubs over a decade ago. As the home fans rounded off the night with renditions of “VAR, VAR” in reply, you suspected that while those deep wounds from the Tevez saga have not fully healed, this frenetic night under the lights will certainly have helped.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson 8; Basham 7.5, Egan 6, O'Connell 7; Baldock 7, Lundstram 6.5 (Besic 70, 7), Norwood 7.5, Fleck 8*, Stevens 7; McGoldrick 6 (Mousset 60, 7), McBurnie 7 (Sharp 84)
Subs not used: Eastwood, Jagielka, Osborn, Robinson
Scorers: McBurnie (53)
Manager: Chris Wilder 7.5
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 6 (Martin 14, 5); Zabaleta 7, Balbuena 6.5, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6.5; Rice 7.5, Noble 7.5; Felipe Anderson 7.5, Lanzini 7 (Fornals 84), Masuaku 6.5 (Snodgrass 68, 7); Haller 6
Subs: Diop, Cardoso, Rosa, Ngakai
Manager: David Moyes 7.5
Referee: Michael Oliver 8