West Ham 2-0 Bournemouth: Hammers draw to 10th from 17th after TWO big handball decisions

Gary O’Neil may have been tempted to say ‘raise your hand if you know the handball rule’ as he sat down with reporters after that loss at the London Stadium.

But given Bournemouth’s bad luck, you can hardly blame O’Neil for not wanting to see what could go wrong when arms are raised around him.

Every time the ball hit a hand on Monday night it went against Bournemouth. This infuriated O’Neil, the interim coach who was warned for unleashing his anger on the officials.

Kurt Zouma’s opener was controversial when the ball hit the arms of Thilo Kehrer, who was practically doing the West Ham ‘Irons’ symbol when Jarrod Bowen’s corner kick hit him. VAR decided it wasn’t deliberate and therefore the goal was a good one.

West Ham defender Kurt Zouma (centre) opened the scoring with a goal just before half-time

Said Benrahma (left) secured victory for the Hammers after scoring a stoppage time penalty

Said Benrahma (left) secured victory for the Hammers after scoring a stoppage time penalty

Blatant,’ O’Neil said afterwards, calling it ‘ridiculous’ and ‘impossible’.

As if to stir salt in Bournemouth’s injuries, West Ham completed the scoring with a late penalty – awarded for a Jordan Zemura handball after a VAR check and scored by Said Benrahma.

The conversation about what is and is not handball in today’s game has never been more confusing for the football fan. He is not destined to disappear, as much as O’Neil wishes.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto (orange) had to be injured at half-time

Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto (orange) had to be injured at half-time

Cherries striker Dominic Solanke was also sent off early after being injured in a tackle

Cherries striker Dominic Solanke was also sent off early after being injured in a tackle

“Since I’ve been here there have been 10 serious VAR checks and none have passed,” O’Neil added, almost claiming that smaller clubs don’t get the decisions and there is a conspiracy.

Amid all this Bournemouth anger, West Ham were delighted. Manager David Moyes insists he doesn’t think of the ‘R’ word. Relegation is not what he wants in his mind.

He wants European football and after starting the day in 17th, West Ham finished it in 10th, much more in line with his ambitions for this season.

Each of Benrahma’s last three goals have come under different premiers and the latter has sparked a major move around the No 10. This is where West Ham now find themselves in the table and they are looking up rather than down low under Moyes.

Declan Rice (right) helped guide West Ham to a well-deserved Premier League win

Declan Rice (right) helped guide West Ham to a well-deserved Premier League win

“I think our performance deserved more than a set piece and a penalty,” Moyes said.

Since O’Neil took over as temporary Bournemouth manager – 56 plus days ago – Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa have all sacked their bosses. Vacancies are constantly opening up in the Premier League and it was interesting to see Sean Dyche in Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football showcase.

“Watch this space,” said Dyche, who is linked with becoming Bournemouth boss. The truth is that O’Neil is currently considered the favorite after his efforts as a goalkeeper.

Bournemouth had to hang on in the first half. West Ham came closest to the opener on 20 minutes when Aaron Cresswell’s effort was knocked down by goalkeeper Neto.

The match marred by VAR controversy saw Bournemouth players surround match officials

The match marred by VAR controversy saw Bournemouth players surround match officials

VAR were involved for both goals as questionable handball decisions went in favor of the hosts

VAR were involved for both goals as questionable handball decisions went in favor of the hosts

A minute later, Gianluca Scamacca broke through the Bournemouth back line. He squared the ball to Tomas Soucek, whose tame finish allowed Neto to make the save.

Several injury stoppages at Bournemouth ruined the pace of this game and West Ham fans were frustrated. Worried too when play resumed and Soucek’s careless pass into midfield was intercepted by Dominic Solanke. Driving on goal with Kehrer for company, Solanke forced a save on Lukasz Fabianski.

In the 45th minute, an almighty scramble ensued after a West Ham corner kick. Chris Mepham tried to clear the header but Soucek sent the header home. Zouma had the slightest touch to the ball to send it past Neto for 1-0.

Bournemouth complained to referee David Coote, saying the ball clearly hit Kehrer’s hands in the middle of the scrum. It is, but VAR Mike Dean decided not to send Coote to his monitor.

O’Neil was not happy and earned himself a yellow card at halftime.

Bournemouth boss Gary O'Neil was shown a yellow card for berating match officials

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was shown a yellow card for berating match officials

West Ham had only scored twice in the first half in the Premier League this season but ultimately they had a third and a lead to protect.

VAR Dean had another decision to make in the 56th minute when Jefferson Lerma rushed in on Scamacca. A yellow card was shown, although the Bournemouth midfielder may have been lucky he wasn’t red.

As four minutes of stoppage time was announced, there was another VAR check after Zemura blocked Coufal’s cross with one arm.

Coote was sent to his monitor and, agreeing with Dean that Zemura was in an unholy position, awarded the penalty which Benrahma buried.

O'Neil (right) fumed at VAR decisions that went against his side in the loss to West Ham

O’Neil (right) fumed at VAR decisions that went against his side in the loss to West Ham

As four minutes of stoppage time added up, there was another VAR check after Zemura blocked Coufal’s cross with one arm. VAR Dean decided he was not in a natural position. Coote was sent to his monitor and, agreeing, awarded the penalty.

Benrahma held firm, confirming a win for West Ham that lifted them to the much healthier position of 10th.

MATCH FACTS

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabiansky 6.5; Johnson 6.5, Zouma 7, Kehrer 6.5, Cresswell 7; Rice 7, Soucek 6; Bowen 7, Downes 7, Benrahma 7; Scamacca 6 (Anthony 73, 6)

Subtitles (not used): Areola, Randolph, Coufal, Fornals, Lanzini, Ogbonna, Coventry, Palmieri

Scorers: Zouma (45)

Administrator: David Moyes 6.5

Bournemouth (3-4-2-1): Neto 6 (Across 45, 6); Smith 6, Mepham 6, Senesi 6; Tavernier 6, Cook 6, Lerma 5.5, Fredericks 6 (Zemura 57, 6); Christie 6 (Anthony 57, 6), Billing 5.5; Solanke 5.5 (Moore 45, 6)

Subtitles (not used): Stephens, Rothwell, Stacey, Stanislaus, Pearson,

Reserve: Lerma, Smith

Administrator: Gary O’Neil

Arbitrator: David Coote 6