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Ranieri hoping for ‘miracle’ as Fulham’s relegation woes worsen at West Ham

Fulham have slipped eight points off safety ahead of the weekend fixtures.

Claudio Ranieri admits his side have entered miracle territory (Nigel French/PA)
Claudio Ranieri admits his side have entered miracle territory (Nigel French/PA)

Claudio Ranieri was left hoping for a miracle after Fulham’s relegation troubles deepened following the 3-1 defeat at West Ham.

Ryan Babel’s third-minute goal for the Cottagers was cancelled out by a controversial Javier Hernandez equaliser, and they were sunk by further strikes from Issa Diop and Michail Antonio.

Hernandez knocked the ball in from close range with his hand and it was a punch which ultimately floored Fulham as they never looked like getting anything out of the match after Diop scored soon after.

Antonio’s last-minute goal finished them off, leaving Fulham eight points adrift of safety with most of their relegation rivals still to play over the weekend.

Boss Ranieri admitted: “The level of confidence increases when you win and now that’s a long time ago. But they train well and this means they believe.

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

Hardly any Fulham players appealed for the 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.”

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 are not sure if it was handball or not,” said manager Manuel Pellegrini.

“But it wasn’t the goal that won the game, we scored three goals and the keeper made a lot of saves.”

Press Association

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