West Ham boss Slaven Bilic slammed the decision of referee Mike Dean to brandish attacker Sofiane Feghouli with a straight red card as Manchester United chalked up their sixth successive Premier League victory.
The Hammers were forced to play 75 minutes with 10 men after Feghouli was dismissed for a tackle on United centre-half Phil Jones. Although Jones came off worse, there appeared little malice in the challenge which the Algerian made with both legs close to the ground. It was the fifth red card Dean has issued in 15 matches this term.
Despite a subdued performance, sixth-placed United moved to within a point of Arsenal in fourth courtesy of second-half strikes from substitute Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. West Ham missed the chance to go ninth and remain in 13th place.
“It [the red card] was so early,” said Bilic, who confirmed the club would appeal the decision. “I wouldn’t say it killed us, but it had a major impact on the game. I was very surprised. To be fair, I wouldn’t have been happy with a yellow.
“It was late but they both went in for the ball. After the game, when I saw it, it gave me proof that I was right. The more times I’ve seen it, it is the other way around. It was Jones who made the more dangerous tackle. Maybe his reaction was to save himself.”
United’s manager Jose Mourinho was unsympathetic. He said: “I don’t feel sorry for West Ham. I think if you talk about decisions, we are the champions of bad decisions.”
Despite their numerical advantage, United barely threatened until the half’s latter stages when Antonio Valencia was denied from point-blank range by goalkeeper Darren Randolph, while Jesse Lingard could only glaringly prod the rebound against the woodwork.
Michail Antonio, a serial goalscorer with his head, failed to trouble David de Gea from Dimitri Payet’s whipped free-kick shortly after the break, while the former Tooting and Mitcham player was thwarted by the Spain stopper when clean through on the hour mark.
Substitute Marcus Rashford provided a toothless United with the necessary impetus moments later by bursting down the left flank and picking out fellow replacement Mata who swept beyond Randolph.
United settled matters 12 minutes from time when Ander Herrera charged down Pedro Obiang’s woeful clearance, and Ibrahimovic, despite lurking in an offisde position, lashed past Randolph.