Michail Antonio scored a 90th-minute winner for West Ham on Saturday afternoon but faced accusations of cheating from the home supporters after the final whistle. Following the match, Antonio reappeared from the tunnel to complete his media duties and was greeted with a plethora of chants from the remaining Leeds United fans.
“Cheat, cheat, cheat,” joined shouts of “you should have been sent off” and “how’s your elbow?” “You should have had a red card” was also alongside some rather more industrial words thrown his way.
As the abuse rained down on him Antonio replied with a cheeky grin but then opened up on the incident the Leeds fans were so infuriated about.
Michail Antonio said: “Basically, I’ve jumped up and the hand that I’ve led with has caught the goalkeeper. I honestly don’t think that it’s a foul, but I’ve caught him, he’s gone down, and we’ve scored from it. The referee has made the decision and that’s the decision at the end of the day. We’ve managed to get the three points anyway and we’ll keep going..”
Tomas Soucek looked to have made amends for his earlier mistake after gifting Leeds possession in the build-up to their goal but referee Kevin Friend had other ideas. After a VAR review, the official deemed Antonio’s jump to have been foul play with the striker’s elbow clearly catching Illan Meslier in the face and awarded Leeds a free-kick and the striker a yellow card. Despite this setback, West Ham rallied and after some fine work from Jarrod Bowen, Junior Firpo put the ball in the back of his own net, and then in the 90th minute, Antonio sent the away fans into raptures. The striker may have popped up with a fantastic late winner but manager David Moyes was not entirely satisfied with his striker’s performance.
David Moyes said: “I’ve seen him play better. He missed a couple of chances at the start but when you’re in your centre forward you’re always hoping that an opportunity comes to you to get that goal and then Mickey did it. He’s been really terrific for us since he’s become a centre forward. I didn’t think it was his best game, but I certainly thought his finish was magic and he missed one or two in the first half, but he will play much better and the team will play much better than we did today but it was really good. He’s developing into a good player, [but] I did not think his all-round play today was good but sometimes as a centre forward your all-round play is not the most important thing. Most of the time, the most important thing is that you score the goals. The keeper made a really good save from him in the fifth minute and there was another one as well which he pulled. He has had four or five chances today but he got one, and that’s the important thing. He gets given big respect, certainly from everybody at West Ham we really enjoy him.”
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