Michail Antonio praises West Ham for overcoming VAR controversy to beat Chelsea
The Hammers were denied an opening goal by technology but came from behind to beat Chelsea.
Michail Antonio was delighted West Ham could shrug off yet more video assistant referee frustration and secure a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Chelsea.
Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek thought he had opened the scoring in the 34th minute, bundling the ball home from a corner, but VAR ruled out the effort.
Stockley Park took almost four minutes to chalk off the goal for another of those most marginal offside calls against Antonio, who was lying on the ground as Soucek lifted the ball over him.
The official explanation from the Professional Game Match Officials Board was that “Antonio was in an offside position and directly in the line of vision of Kepa Arrizabalaga”.
Soucek eventually netted, cancelling out Willian’s penalty, and after the Brazilian equalised following Antonio’s goal, there was late drama as Andriy Yarmolenko grabbed a precious winner for the Hammers in their fight for survival.
“I really dislike VAR, I really dislike it!” Antonio, laughing, told Sky Sports.
“This season so many things have not gone our way. But today it didn’t stop us, we just kept going, and we got the victory.
“It was hard, they play unbelievable football, and they kept pinning us in. It is a massive result.
“Man, there’s been so many games where we’ve been just so close, and today we had a goal taken away from us, we went 1-0 down, we drew level and then went down again – but managed to come back and win it.
“It shows the belief we’ve got, the grit we’ve got and that we’re not going to give up, we’ll fight until the end.”
The win moved West Ham three points above the relegation zone and dented Chelsea’s Champions League hopes.
“Yarmolenko’s got that in abundance; when he cuts on to his left foot, it’s going into the far corner,” Antonio added.
“He always does it, and it’s difficult to stop. It shows we shouldn’t be in this position, but we are and we’ve got to get ourselves out of it.
“If we can do it against Chelsea, we can do it against anybody.”
Hammers boss David Moyes hit out at VAR, admitting he has lost trust in the technology.
“Again the VAR stuff I’m beginning to lose complete faith with it,” Moyes said
“I’m trying not to whinge, but that’s what I am doing now. I haven’t seen it again myself, but everybody seems to think it should have stood as a goal.
“I was spewing. I was thinking ‘are we ever going to get a decision here?’. I think some of the things that have gone against West Ham recently have been really poor. I can’t explain it.
“But we did say to the players we’ve got to change our luck. And it maybe went our way tonight. The players deserve a massive amount of credit.
“Ultimately we’d be lying if we weren’t looking at other results, of course we are.
“I hadn’t thought we’d been as bad as the results suggested in the first two games. But tonight we took most of our chances.
“This (result) doesn’t mean anything really; the next target has got to start with a four. If you get to 40 you’ll be safe in the Premier League.
“So we’ve got to get to that tally, so that means probably another three wins so we’ve got to keep pushing for that.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard criticised his Blues players for the latest in a string of below-par losses that have followed patches of fine form this term.
“It’s not exactly the story of our season, because it’s been a good season – but there’s been so many of these moments,” Lampard said.
“We had an opportunity to move third. If there’s moments when you switch off you are going to encourage teams on. It’s been there. I’m very aware of it. The players then have to show that extra mentality, that extra bit.
“I get to see the group as closely as anybody. I’ve seen us have great games, but then I’ve seen us have great chances to capitalise on our situation. And that’s the difference for us at the moment.”