Watford fire, EPL drop beckons for Fulham

Watford's Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney (l) shared the five goals in the EPL win at Cardiff City.
Watford's Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney (l) shared the five goals in the EPL win at Cardiff City.

The delay in the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) system to the Premier League has proved costly for Fulham who took another step closer to relegation with a controversial 3-1 loss at West Ham United.

Javier Hernandez scored an equaliser with the aid of his arm before Issa Diop and Michail Antonio added goals as West Ham handed Fulham their sixth loss in seven games.

It keeps the Cottagers second-bottom in the table, eight points from safety with 11 games remaining.

"Time is running out but we never give up," manager Claudio Ranieri said.

"We must be confident and we must dream and continue to fight."

Ryan Babel's third-minute opener was cancelled out when Fulham keeper Sergio Rico didn't make full contact with his punch of a corner kick.

The ball eventually went towards Hernandez, who stooped to head it in at the far post only for replays to show it went in off his arm instead.

Diop then headed home another corner in the 40th minute and Antonio wrapped up the win in second-half stoppage time.

"We created very good chances and it was a pity that the referee didn't see the handball. VAR is very important for next season," Ranieri said.

Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted that Hernandez's goal should have been ruled out.

"From my position I couldn't see the handball, I have seen it since and it is handball.... I don't think that the goal decided the game," he said.

Watford are up to seventh after Gerard Deulofeu became the first Hornets player to score a hat-trick in the EPL era in their 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City.

Troy Deeney added two goals as the Hornets improved their chances of qualifying for the Europa League

"It was a very good performance," manager Javi Gracia said. "To win like we did today was outstanding.

"I am very proud of all my players."

Cardiff remain one place and one point above the relegation places in 17th and will fall into the drop zone if results go against them this weekend.

"It was very difficult to take," Sol Bamba, who scored a late consolation, said.

"We are a team that show resilience and fight and we didn't show that today.

"It's not like us and it's very disappointing."

Australian Associated Press