West Ham manager David Moyes called referee Mike Dean’s decision to send off Tomas Soucek “embarrassing” as the Hammers drew with Fulham – and missed a chance to move into the top four of the Premier League.
The Hammers ended with 10 men as Soucek was shown a straight red card for elbowing Aleksandar Mitrovic in injury time.
As the pair jostled for position at a free-kick, Soucek raised his elbow and caught the Fulham striker in an incident that looked accidental.
However, following a lengthy video assistant referee check, Dean was advised to check the incident himself, with VAR official Lee Mason telling Dean to look at Soucek’s “clenched fist”.
Dean, taking a few minutes to make his decision, repeatedly watched the incident on the pitchside monitor and eventually sent him off for violent conduct.
“I’m embarrassed for whoever has done VAR and I’m a bit embarrassed for Mike Dean – the level of referee he is, to make that decision,” said Moyes.
“It was obvious to everyone it was accidental. He [Dean] obviously didn’t see it and looked at the screen and I’m really embarrassed he chose to send him off.
“We want them to get the decisions right. I find it really difficult that someone back at Stockley Park [where the VAR officials are based] would not say ‘this is accidental, let’s get on with it’.
“It has come down to a poor refereeing decision and a poor VAR Stockley Park decision and we can’t do much about it.
“It’s unfair to the boy. I’m sure they will come up with enough excuses to justify the reason for sending him off.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker agreed that Soucek, who will miss an FA Cup game against Manchester United and Premier League matches against Sheffield United and Tottenham, did not deserve to be dismissed.
“It probably was a bit harsh and the game is becoming very sterile,” said Parker. “I don’t think it was a sending off but that’s the way the game is going.”
In a quiet first half, both sides only managed one shot on target each – the visitors’ Declan Rice having an effort saved by Alphonse Areola and Ivan Cavaleiro heading tamely at Lukasz Fabianski for the hosts.
West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal then headed against the crossbar from Rice’s cross from the left.
Tosin Adarabioyo could have given Fulham all three points but narrowly headed over from eight yards out as neither side could make the breakthrough.
West Ham would have gone above Liverpool with victory, but stay fifth, one point behind last season’s champions, who host league leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
Fulham have now not won in 14 matches in all competitions, since a 2-1 victory at Leicester City on 30 November, and remain 18th – in the relegation zone.
‘Worst decision ever’ – Wright
Discussing the Soucek red card on Match of the Day, former England striker Ian Wright said: “The amount of times Mike Dean had to have a look at it.
“You have debates about the best goals, but there is no debate here – this is the worst decision I’ve ever seen. He is trying to move his arm.”
Ex-Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin, also speaking on Match of the Day, added: “Mike Dean will be embarrassed – the decision is shocking. Soucek was trying to move his arm over
the top of Mitrovic and stop him holding him.”
However, former Blackburn forward Chris Sutton, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “I don’t think Mike Dean is left with any choice. What does he do if he doesn’t send him off?
“I think it was accidental, but whether or not it was accidental it was dangerous.
“Mitrovic did get caught. Can we have a go at Mitrovic for going down? I think Soucek caught him fairly strongly. I think the red card will stick.”
Europe-chasing West Ham may be happy with a point
West Ham came into this match in a great run of form with seven wins in their past eight – and that one defeat was against Liverpool.
Although Fulham had the greater share of possession, the best chance fell to Coufal, but the woodwork denied the Czech defender his first goal for the club.
His countryman Soucek, looking for his ninth Hammers goal of the season, should have done better when he met Jesse Lingard’s cross but could not keep his header down.
However, it has still been a great campaign so far for West Ham, who finished 16th in 2020-21, but are hoping to qualify for European competition for the first time since they finished seventh in 2015-16 under Slaven Bilic.
In the end, West Ham were hanging on and may regard this a decent point.
Fulham substitute Mitrovic shot wide late on, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek also missing two chances in the last five minutes for the hosts.
Fulham’s lack of ruthlessness shows again
Fulham began the day eight points adrift of Burnley and Newcastle, although Burnley drew 1-1 against Brighton and nine-man Newcastle beat Southampton 3-2 to increase the pressure on Scott Parker’s side.
But this latest draw keeps the Cottagers eight points from 17th and in grave danger of making an instant return to the Championship after winning the play-offs to get promoted last season.
When these sides met in November, West Ham won 1-0, but Fulham missed a glorious chance to equalise in injury time as Ademola Lookman’s weak chipped ‘Panenka’ penalty was easily saved by Fabianski.
Lookman was one of Fulham’s positives in a quiet first half at Craven Cottage as he twice created space for chances, but could not hit the target.
Fulham started the second half brightly as Bobby Decordova-Reid volleyed over and Loftus-Cheek, when played in by Lookman, shot into the side netting.
But once again Fulham’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cost them as Adarabioyo headed just over and Cavaleiro missed the target when unmarked.
Manager Parker handed a late debut to striker Josh Maja, signed on loan from Bordeaux on transfer deadline day, and also brought on Mitrovic in an attempt to get what would have been only their third league win of the season.
They had chances too, but Mitrovic and Loftus-Cheek failed to take the opportunities on another frustrating day for the Cottagers.
Another London derby without a win for Fulham – the stats
- Fulham have failed to win any of their past four league games against West Ham (D1 L3), failing to score in three of those matches.
- Fulham are winless in their past 20 Premier League London derbies (D3 L17), with only Crystal Palace having a longer such run in English top-flight history (31 between August 1969 and March 197
3). However, this was the first time the Cottagers have kept a clean sheet in a Premier League London derby since March 2013 (1-0 vs Tottenham), having conceded in each of their previous 28 such matches.
- No side has played out more goalless draws in the Premier League this season than Fulham (four – level with Manchester United).
- West Ham have won as many points this season in 23 games as they did in the entirety of 2019-20 (39).
- Only Burnley (12) have failed to score in more Premier League games than Fulham (11) this season.
- There were just three shots on target in this game, two for Fulham and one for West Ham, the joint-lowest tally in a Premier League game this season (level with three other games).
- Fulham (D8 L4) have gone 12 league games without a victory for the first time since April-September 2014, while it is their longest such run solely in the top flight since November 2007-January 2008 (a run of 12).
- West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen (19) has been substituted on more occasions than any other player in the Premier League this season, whilst team-mate Andriy Yarmolenko (13) has made the most appearances from the bench in the competition this campaign.
‘From start to finish we were superb’ – what they said
Fulham boss Scott Parker told Match of the Day: “It’s a tough one to take because I felt from start to finish we were superb.
“We had 20-odd shots and our finishing was probably the deciding factor. We caused them loads of problems. The players executed the plan superbly – we were a real threat.
“We know what the difference is at this level. This is a group of players working tirelessly and I saw that today.
“We need to get that win, we need something to drop for us.”
West Ham boss David Moyes told Match of the Day: “We didn’t play as well as we have been – sometimes the games can catch up on you quickly.
“Fulham were the better team – we cant deny that. I don’t think the quality of our play was right from the start. Several things didn’t work from the start.”
Fulham have a week without a match as they do not play again until Sunday, 14 February when they are at Everton in the Premier League (19:00 GMT).
West Ham play at Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Tuesday (19:30), before returning to league action on Monday, 15 February as Sheffield United are at London Stadium (18:00).
West Ham United
- 5AndersenBooked at 90mins
- 33RobinsonSubstituted forMajaat 79′minutes
- 18LeminaSubstituted forMitrovicat 79′minutes
- 14De Cordova-ReidSubstituted forZambo Anguissaat 83′minutes
- 29Zambo Anguissa
- 1FabianskiBooked at 90mins
- 21OgbonnaBooked at 75mins
- 28SoucekBooked at 90mins
- 20BowenSubstituted forNobleat 56′minutes
- 9BenrahmaSubstituted forYarmolenkoat 56′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 30AntonioSubstituted forFredericksat 74′minutes
Match ends, Fulham 0, West Ham United 0.
Second Half ends, Fulham 0, West Ham United 0.
Offside, West Ham United. Aaron Cresswell tries a through ball, but Mark Noble is caught offside.
Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) is shown the red card for violent conduct.
VAR Decision: Card upgraded Tomas Soucek (West Ham United).
Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card.
Joachim Andersen (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joachim Andersen (Fulham).
Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United).
Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Attempt missed. Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Aaron Cresswell with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham).
Jesse Lingard (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Fulham) header from the left side of the six yard box is too high.
Attempt missed. Josh Maja (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kenny Tete with a cross.
Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jesse Lingard (West Ham United).