But Dean Smith’s team remained furious after late leveler Ollie Watkins was controversial for offside.
Villa had done more than enough to win a share of the booty when Watkins beat his marker Angelo Ogbonna on the ball and finished in the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
There were nervous glances at the assistant referee, who kept his flag down. But the video assistant referee ruled that Watkins was in a slightly offside position after a long stop to check reruns.
Here’s what the national media had to say about the VAR issue and what some members of the press above the shelters:
The game was tight. West Ham scored early in each half, thanks to Angelo Ogbonna and Jarrod Bowen, and Villa ended up in the game.
The result could have been different as Ollie Watkins rocked the bar from the penalty spot with a chance for a second equalizer with 16 minutes remaining after Jack Grealish went 1-1 with a wonderful run and deflected strike . Watkins failed to convert four of his six penalties, including three at Brentford.
By the fourth minute of the stoppage time, Watkins thought he had made amends, but his shoulder was ruled offside by VAR when he converted a Matt Targett cross.
Villa manager Dean Smith felt particularly aggrieved when referee Michael Oliver changed his decision to award a penalty which would have given his Villa side the chance to equalize against Brighton & Hove Albion after having consulted VAR during the previous match. This time Smith believed Watkins’ goal had been ruled out severely and his striker was shot by Ogbonna anyway, which should have resulted in a penalty.
Smith swore curses with the opposing bench on several occasions, apparently angered by Kevin Nolan, the West Ham first team coach who was checked off for his response by the fourth official.
The moment of controversy came right at the end of the game in stoppage time, when Watkins broke free from Ogbonna to find the back of the net. But, after a long check, the VAR felt he was offside by a few millimeters and completely missed the fact that the West Ham defender had clearly held the attacker back.
It wasn’t the only controversial moment on a busy night, when the Villa Grealish striker was accused of being a diver and a cheater by the West Ham bench.
A West Ham staff member and Villa assistant John Terry were both booked in the second half for their reactions to Grealish’s downfall and claiming Pablo Fornals had made contact with him, while Dean Smith and the assistant of West Ham, Kevin Nolan, had argued during the opening. 45 minutes.
“Their guys called Jack a cheater and a diver all night,” Smith said. It happened for the whole first half, then in the second half too. I spoke to David Moyes and Alan Irvine afterwards and they said this shouldn’t happen and they will take care of it.
One for purists and those of a more trashy persuasion, this game had the lot. Goals, tackles, tips, kicks, feints and fouls. There was also a long cameo for a fan favorite; the split offside by video. It was a contest that could have broken down in any way, but it did so in West Ham’s favor.
They move up to fifth place in the table, after a goal early in each half from Angelo Ogbonna and Jarrod Bowen proved enough to hold back an endemic Jack Grealish and a cursed Ollie Watkins. The Villa forward took a penalty against the crossbar and had a goal ruled out for the slow and maddening reasons mentioned above.
“I’m delighted to take three points,” said David Moyes. “It wasn’t our best performance, but it was tough and against a good team that did well away from home. But I don’t really like a lot of offside rules at the moment and I don’t think it improves the game at all.
Dean Smith’s side have been a difficult team to predict this season – three out of three road wins before this one but fluffy at home.
They destroyed champion Liverpool, but scored goals in disappointing defeats to Leeds, Southampton and Brighton. They were also caught cold in the opening trade each half here, with two single headers breaking their bottom line and nullifying their good work going forward.
At Grealish, however, they had the outstanding player in the game and he earned his level as a team with a trademark elegant finish from outside the box midway through the first half. His quick footwork was a constant threat, but he was unusually disappointed with his supporting cast as Watkins not only missed the spot, but headed for another presentable opportunity.
Villa controlled the majority of the game but wasn’t ruthless enough in both boxes to turn their dominance into points.
When Watkins got home in added time, it looked like they had recovered a point only for VAR to step in and let Smith count the cost of those missed opportunities.