West Ham manager Sam Allardyce accused the officials of taking victory away from his players as they drew 2-2 with Manchester United.
The Hammers had led twice through Ricardo Vaz Te and Mohamed Diame when Robin van Persie got United level for a second time, with replays suggesting the Holland striker was offside.
The decision angered Allardyce, who said a “famous victory” had been taken away from his men.
“The team has played the best they can play and they have scored one of the best goals of the season and the assistant referee takes it away from you,” he told Sky Sports 2. “It’s a bit difficult to take, that’s their job, it’s their job to give the offside decisions that appear in front of them. This is a blatant one, this is not a position he should or shouldn’t be in. He can see Van Persie is two yards offside, he should put his flag up, he doesn’t.”
Allardyce, whose men look set for another season in the top flight on 39 points, added: “Andy Carroll has a shot two minutes in and his flag went straight up so I don’t know what’s going on. This has taken a famous victory away from us today. To draw this game by a default goal from Manchester United is difficult to swallow. A fantastic performance by the team – they get rubbished for some of the football they play and that’s a disgrace as well. They (officials) shouldn’t make those mistakes. If we (players) make those mistakes they’re out, dropped and they’re blatant. If you make big decisions and don’t get them right you’re out of the team. It was an offside goal and it shouldn’t have been given.”
The goal was one of a number of talking points on the night, with England striker Andy Carroll describing his altercation with international team-mate Wayne Rooney as “friendly banter”.
Carroll’s performance stole the show, with the all-action frontman involved in a number of incidents.
One set-to with Rooney was highlighted, as was his clattering into David De Gea from a corner. He was booked for a challenge on the Spanish keeper in the second half and was involved in a number of discussions with United captain Nemanja Vidic about his use of the elbow.
But Carroll said: “It was great, a tough battle, I enjoyed every minute and getting stuck in, getting a few elbows and giving a few. It’s all part of the game.”
On his clash with Rooney he added: “It was a bit of friendly banter with me and Wazza,” before saying abou De Gea: “I went for the ball. I was running straight in and couldn’t stop at that moment.”
Carroll has become a terrace favourite in east London and the home fans made it clear they want the striker to stay when his loan from Liverpool expires.
“I’ve loved every minute and the lads have been excellent,” he said. “We will have to wait and see what happens.”
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson made his views on Carroll’s challenge plain and suggested the officials’ decision-making had not helped his team.
Asked for his opinion on the incident that sent De Gea tumbling to the floor, he told Sky Sports 2: “I think it’s obvious, I don’t think we need to dwell on that, it’s an obvious red card but the referee has seen it differently. We know how they play, the ball is in the air most of the time. You’ve got to defend those things and they’re very, very aggressive so you hope there’s a strong referee. I’m not so sure we got that tonight.”
Despite those misgivings, Ferguson was proud of his players’ resolve and declared it the performance of “champions”.
United are 13 points clear of rivals Manchester City, who have six games to play to the Red Devils’ five.
“We had to stand up to a lot, we went down twice but we kept going. We played like champions tonight,” he said. “It was magnificent in terms of determination and courage to play. It’s one more game away…that’s five left – three at home and three away. We’re determined to win, we don’t like losing and they showed that tonight again.”