Sky Sports pundit Darren Bent couldn’t believe that West Ham had their late equaliser ruled out in the defeat at Chelsea, as the rest of the panel laughed through the VAR review going against his prediction.
Moments after Kai Havertz had put the home side ahead Maxwel Cornet appeared to have fired the Hammers back level with a shot into the top corner when Edouard Mendy hesitated in coming for a Reece James header.
But after a video review the referee ruled there had been a foul on the goalkeeper as Jarrod Bowen’s trailing leg made contact with him on the ground, and the Irons were condemned to a controversial defeat to the disbelief of Bent.
Speaking live on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday during the game (3 September, 4.47pm) as the goal went in he had called it: “Absolutely awful defending from Chelsea.”
Jeff Stelling asked: “Do you think there’s any prospect this’ll be ruled out by VAR?”
“No I don’t because I don’t know what he’s doing there, Mendy,” Bent replied.
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As VAR then intervened Clinton Morrison, laughing hysterically at Bent along with the rest of the panel, said: “If you ask me, the goal’s not going to stand. I bet he’s going over to the monitor.”
Bent continued: “I don’t think it was a foul Jeff… Jarrod Bowen collides with him a little bit but it’s not enough to keep him down… I don’t even know what the referee’s looking at.”
Soon after Stelling went back to Bent, who said: “Andrew Madley’s decided it’s a foul, and for me it’s nowhere near a foul. Mendy has got to be stronger… I think it’s an awful decision.
“Chelsea have got away with one there because I don’t think that’s a foul whatsoever.”
A horrible first half had given way to an eventful second, as West Ham fired themselves ahead in front of the away fans through Michail Antonio, with £170million of defensive signings for Chelsea floundering on the turf inside the goal.
Ben Chilwell and Havertz had turned the game back in their favour but the Irons showed the kind of fight that had become customary in games against the big six last season to pull themselves back level again immediately.
Mendy saw an opportunity to play for the foul and the officials completely bought it. There was contact but it was incidental and he used it to bail himself out after a key error.
The Hammers had done enough to take something from this game, and after Thiago Silva had said this week he wanted international teammate Lucas Paqueta to go home “sad” from this match, it is more likely outrage and frustration the record signing will be feeling.
David Moyes and his side’s luck so far this campaign has been miserable, whether it be with injuries, refereeing decisions, or just the odd key bounce in games.
After finally getting the first win on the board over Aston Villa, following it up with a creditable midweek draw with Tottenham, and signing a new star in Paqueta, it felt like things were on the up.
But the feelings of injustice after the trip to Chelsea will be strong and the players can’t let it derail some significant improvements of late.