VAR Drama: Aston Villa Holds West Ham to Controversial Draw!

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In a thrilling finish, Aston Villa managed to hold onto a point against West Ham United, as a late VAR review overturned what would have been a stoppage-time winner for the Hammers. Aston Villa’s quest for their first-ever win at the London Stadium continues, extending West Ham’s unbeaten record against them to nine games on home turf (with four wins and five draws).

Both teams entered the match buoyed by comfortable midweek victories that secured quarter-final berths in their respective European competitions.

Despite Villa’s dominance in possession during the first half, they struggled to break through West Ham’s defense. While Morgan Rogers showed promise for the visitors, it was West Ham who created the better scoring opportunities, including Lucas Paqueta’s deflected effort narrowly missing the target.

Vladimir Coufal, omitted from the Czech Republic squad for upcoming friendlies, showcased his worth for West Ham, delivering a precise cross for Michail Antonio to score with a diving header, giving the hosts a deserved halftime lead.

With concerns about their first-half performance, Unai Emery made changes at halftime. However, it was West Ham who found the back of the net early in the second half.

Thankfully for Villa, Antonio was adjudged to have handled the ball as he turned in Jarrod Bowen’s corner delivery whilst under pressure from Martínez.

That disallowed goal appeared to act as a wake-up call for Villa, who began to exert pressure on the Hammers’ backline, testing Areola with a long-range Youri Tielemans strike before Ezri Konsa forced another save from close range.

Eventually, Emery’s substitutions had the desired effect as West Ham finally buckled under the pressure. Brilliant wing play from Moussa Diaby allowed the France international to cut the ball back where Nicolo Zaniolo arrived in space to turn in the equaliser.

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James Ward-Prowse had the chance to steal all three points in stoppage time, only to be denied by a vital Matty Cash block before a dramatic late winner was chalked off after an incredibly long VAR check determined there was handball as the ball was bundled in by Konstantinos Mavropanos.

Having comfortably won the reverse fixture 4-1 back in October, Villa ultimately had to settle for a point as they continued their impressive recent record in London (W6, D3) – their longest unbeaten streak in the capital.

Emery may look back on this as two points dropped, however, as the Villans’ aspirations of a top-four finish hang in the balance, with a three-point cushion over their closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Meanwhile, a fourth straight Premier League match without defeat sees West Ham close the gap on sixth-place Manchester United to just three points as they seek yet more European football.

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