Bilic blasts red card call and rues dropped points

Date published: Sunday 3rd April 2016 11:49

Cheikhou Kouyate: Saw red against Palace

Slaven Bilic criticised the decision to send off Cheikhou Kouyate after West Ham dropped two points in their chase for a Champions League spot.

The Hammers were leading Crystal Palace through another stunning free-kick from Dimitri Payet when Kouyate was shown a straight red card by referee Mark Clattenburg for a challenge on Dwight Gayle.

The 10 men could only hold on for eight minutes before Gayle lashed in an equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw for Palace.

Bilic’s men have now dropped four points in two weeks thanks to dubious refereeing decisions after Cesc Fabregas scored a late, soft penalty in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea.

Even opposite number Alan Pardew admitted the decision looked “harsh”, and Bilic said: “We have every right to be very disappointed. It had a huge impact on the game.

“For anyone who has anything to do with football it’s very easy to judge that decision. It is simply never a red card. For me personally it is not even a yellow card.

“In England maybe it’s not even a foul – a 50-50 challenge!

“It’s now four points (dropped) in two games. But we will keep fighting.”

The incident overshadowed a sublime set-piece from man of the moment Payet, who followed up his strikes at Manchester United and, for France, against Russia, with another piece of magic.

Damien Delaney’s early header, courtesy of a goalkeeping error from Adrian, had been quickly cancelled out by Manuel Lanzini when Joel Ward chopped down Payet 25 yards out.

Pardew had even warned his side not to concede free-kicks within 30 yards of goal, and looked resigned to his fate as he trudged back to his seat in the dug-out while Payet weighed up his options.

Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey left plenty of room to his right, expecting Payet to reprise his spectacular recent efforts.

However, as Hennessey began to move right Payet, rather than lift the ball over the seven-man wall, calmly curled the ball round it into the opposite corner.

“We talked about putting a hole in the wall, or the goalkeeper standing more central,” revealed Pardew. “But I just think that’s just unsavable!”

However, after Kouyate’s dismissal substitute Gayle latched onto Winston Reid’s fluffed clearance and tucked in his first Premier League goal of the season.

“If someone had offered a me a draw at 2-1 down with the form West Ham are in at the moment I’d have taken it,” added Pardew.

“Dwight is probably our most natural goalscorer. He’s been in the gym while he’s been out injured and he looks bigger and stronger in the shirt now.”

Palace are still without a win in 2016, a run which now stretches to 14 matches.

But Pardew said: “Our fans have been incredibly loyal to the team and me through this run, and it was nice to get that goal in front of them.”

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