Ham­mers sur­vive with 10 men Ma­suaku sees red but Pel­le­grini’s side hold on to claim point at Villa

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT at Villa Park

There were plenty of ifs and one ex­tra­or­di­nary butt as Aston Villa and West Ham United played out a breath­less but goal­less draw. The ifs came from the num­ber of chances not taken – if only one had been con­verted, Villa would be out of the bot­tom three by more than goal dif­fer­ence or West Ham would be in the top three – and de­spite a send­ing-off, the big­gest talk­ing point cen­tred on the butt.

It came when two Villa play­ers, Ty­rone Mings and An­war El Ghazi, clashed an­grily in the first half in­side their own penalty area, with the lat­ter clearly push­ing his head into that of his team-mate’s as they ar­gued.

“Hand­bags,” Villa cap­tain Jack Gre­al­ish said, although he added that Mings had con­tin­ued to make his point that El Ghazi had failed to track back, be­fore the pair shook hands in the dress­ing room at half­time.

“I didn’t need to deal with it,” Villa man­ager Dean Smith said, ad­mit­ting that El Ghazi had seen a “red mist” and re­acted badly. “Look­ing at it, it went over the edge of what we want and the play­ers dealt with it very quickly.”

There will be no dis­ci­plinary ac­tion for El Ghazi, who could ac­tu­ally have been dis­missed for vi­o­lent con­duct. There was a video as­sis­tant ref­eree check by Mike Dean but the of­fi­cial sim­ply ended up re­mind­ing the two Villa play­ers: “You’re on the same team.” In­stead, it was West Ham’s Arthur Ma­suaku who harshly saw red later in the game for a sec­ond book­able of­fence as his team played out the fi­nal quar­ter with 10 men.

Manuel Pel­le­grini, the West Ham man­ager, was clear – sub­sti­tute Ahmed El­mo­hamady had suck­ered Ma­suaku. “It is a sec­ond yel­low card when you play away,” Pel­le­grini said. “It is very easy to sim­u­late, to make a fake foul. They tried to do it with Mark No­ble in the first half.” Hav­ing been booked, No­ble was ac­cused of div­ing in search of a penalty.

The worry for Villa was that they could not take ad­van­tage – although ar­guably Gre­al­ishshould­havescored­la­teon–with West Ham the more threat­en­ing with­out cre­at­ing clear chances, but they could have been awarded a penalty in in­jury time as Mings pos­si­bly clipped Ryan Fred­er­icks just in­side the area, while only a poor pass from sub­sti­tute Pablo For­nals pre­vented Se­bastien Haller from hav­ing a shoot­ing chance to win it.

As ever it seems with Dean the of­fi­cial in­serted him­self into the sto­ry­line and so Ma­suaku’s send­ing-off means it is now 102 times he has shown a red card in his ca­reer – 35 times more than any other Premier League ref­eree, with Phil Dowd the next on 67.

“The West Ham of last sea­son would have lost that,” De­clan Rice said, and he had a point as his side claimed the point. The mid­fielder was also the game’s out­stand­ing player and ap­peared set to make the break­through him­self, only for Gre­al­ish to throw him­self and block a fierce goal­bound shot.

There may have been no goals but there was plenty of in­tent, loads of en­deav­our, with each side putting their bod­ies on the line to deny their op­po­nents, and a re­lent­less pace through­out. “I’ve just looked at our run­ning stats and they are through the roof, but we didn’t use our brains enough to take ad­van­tage [of the ex­tra man],” Smith said. “We lost a bit of emo­tional con­trol there. I think we did get a lit­tle too des­per­ate, to be hon­est.”

That was true. The fear for Villa is where those goals will come from and if, also, Gre­al­ish, with laud­able in­ten­tions and wear­ing the cap­tain’s arm­band, is try­ing to do too much him­self. Still, he fash­ioned the out­stand­ing chance of the first pe­riod when he ex­changed passes with Jota, only for Wes­ley to head nar­rowly over the an­gle of post and cross­bar from close range.

The red card came as El­mo­hamady ran into Ma­suaku by the touch­line – could the de­fender have got out of the way? – and de­spite West Ham ap­peals to check the de­ci­sion, Dean was not moved and in­sisted the de­fender left the pitch.

It seemed Gre­al­ish would de­cide it when he was picked out but he made a ter­ri­ble hash of shoot­ing, mis­cu­ing badly and hop­ing he was off­side. He was not. Mings threw him­self – like Gre­al­ish – to deny Haller and Lukasz Fabi­an­ski saved com­fort­ably from El Ghazi after John Mcginn had swiv­elled and shot just wide.

At the fi­nal whis­tle, Villa play­ers slumped to the turf. They felt they should have won but knew they

could have lost. “Four games un­beaten,” Pel­le­grini said as a way of cel­e­brat­ing what was his 66th birth­day with his team mov­ing up to eighth. “Maybe tonight was our op­tion to be in the Cham­pi­ons League spot, which is why we tried from the first minute to win.” Villa tried, too. Just maybe too much.

Aston Villa (4-3-3) Heaton 6; Guil­bert 7 (Davis 85), En­gels 7, Mings 6, Tay­lor 6; Mcginn 6, Nakamba 6 (Dou­glas Luiz 81), Gre­al­ish 6; Jota 6 (El­mo­hamady 66), Wes­ley 6, El Ghazi 5. Subs Steer (g), Lans­bury, Houri­hane, Konsa. Booked Gre­al­ish, Mings.

West Ham (4-2-3-1) Fabi­an­ski 7; Ma­suaku 5, Og­bonna 6, Diop 6, Fred­er­icks 6; Rice 8, No­ble 6 (Bal­buena 90); An­der­son 6 (Za­baleta 69), Lanzini 6, Yar­molenko 6 (For­nals 62); Haller 6. Subs Jimenez (g), Sn­od­grass, Wil­shere, Ajeti. Booked Ma­suaku, No­ble. Sent off Ma­suaku.

Ref­eree Mike Dean (Cheshire).

Fall­ing out: Ty­rone Mings clashes with Villa team-mate An­war El Ghazi

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