West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini admits Javier Hernandez’s equaliser against Fulham was indeed a handball on Friday night.
The Mexican striker, more commonly known as Chicharito, netted his 50th Premier League goal with his arm after initially appearing to have headed the ball into the net from a yard out following Robert Snodgrass’ corner.
Chicharito’s strike cancelled out Ryan Babel’s opener for Fulham at the London Stadium before Issa Diop’s header found the net to put West Ham 2-1 up heading into the break.
Michail Antonio then added a third goal in stoppage-time to hand the Hammers a first win in five matches.
But the talking point after the game was naturally all about Chicharito’s equaliser, who’s “helping hand” proved to play a decisive part of West Ham’s recovery.
“I’ve seen it now, it’s handball but nobody really saw very clearly,” Pellegrini admitted to Sky Sports.
“The Fulham players didn’t complain much about it, maybe they didn’t see if it was the head or hand, but I don’t think it decided the game. We scored two more and created plenty more chances.
“We started the game sleeping, the first 10 minutes were unbelievable, they created chances, scored the goal and had another shot wide, but after those 10 minutes we played very well.
“We scored three goals, had three or four clear chances and they didn’t have any more clear-cut opportunities.”
Once more this season, West Ham again struggled during the opening phase of the game with former Liverpool star Babel punishing them by scoring his first Fulham goal in the third minute.
“You never know the reason why but maybe we are a little bit struggling with instruction at the moment,” said Pellegrini on West Ham’s slow starts this term.
“The important thing was that we changed the attitude.”
Pellegrini’s side, who are currently ninth in the Premier League table, will next face reigning champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2019