Belfast Telegraph

Javier Hernandez punch knocked stuffing out of Fulham – Claudio Ranieri

Mexico striker Hernandez cancelled out Ryan Babel’s third-minute opener for the visitors by jabbing the ball into the net with his hand.

Claudio Ranieri (right) was unhappy with Javier Hernandez’s goal (Nigel French/PA)
Claudio Ranieri (right) was unhappy with Javier Hernandez’s goal (Nigel French/PA)

Claudio Ranieri admitted Javier Hernandez’s punch knocked the stuffing out of Fulham after their 3-1 Premier League defeat at West Ham.

Mexico striker Hernandez cancelled out Ryan Babel’s third-minute opener for the visitors by jabbing the ball into the net with his hand at the far post.

Referee Lee Mason and his assistants missed the handball but video technology would have surely seen the goal disallowed, adding yet more weight to the ‘pro-VAR’ case.

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Javier Hernandez (second right) jabbed the ball into the net with his hand at the far post (Nigel French/PA)

That was scant consolation to Fulham boss Ranieri, though, as his struggling side crashed to further goals from Issa Diop and Michail Antonio.

Yet hardly any Fulham players appealed for handball, and Ranieri only saw the infringement when it was replayed on the big screen – to the dismay of the travelling fans.

“It was a big pity with the goal, the referee was covered,” said the Italian. “I hope with the VAR next season it will be better.

“I didn’t see but I watched it on the screen. Maybe also the other players didn’t see it, and maybe of the West Ham players only Chicharito (Hernandez) knew the truth.

“Now football is so fast and you have so many players in the box, for the referee it’s very difficult to watch everything, so VAR could be better.

“It’s important in England to have VAR to help the referee.”

Another defeat left the Cottagers eight points adrift of safety with just 11 matches to go, and that bleak picture could look even worse after the weekend fixtures.

“It will be a miracle,” added Ranieri. “But we must fight together. If you fight you have one chance, if you don’t you won’t.”

West Ham recovered from a dodgy opening few minutes, during which Babel could have scored twice, to eventually run out comfortable winners and climb to ninth.

“We never thought it would be an easy game, teams fighting for relegation give everything,” said manager Manuel Pellegrini.

“After those first 10 very strange minutes, we dominated the game. I think it was a good performance taking out those first 10 minutes.

“From my position on the bench I really didn’t see (the handball). Also after seeing the TV, it is a handball but nobody complained from Fulham for very long, they were not sure.

“I don’t think it was the goal that decided the game, we scored three and their goalkeeper saved four or five more chances for us to continue scoring.”

PA

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