Fulham fixes penalty woes to beat Leicester; Villa’s VAR woe
The first ballooned over the crossbar. The second was a dreadful attempt at a “Panenka” that flopped into the goalkeeper’s arms. The third flew off target because of an unfortunate slip.
Three embarrassing penalty misses have summed up Fulham’s miserable start to life back in the English Premier League, so hopes weren’t exactly high when the team was awarded another against Leicester on Monday.
This time, no mistake.
Ivan Cavaleiro — one of the spot kick culprits from previous matches — stepped up and curled his effort high into the net for a goal that ultimately proved the winner at King Power Stadium.
A 2-1 victory was only Fulham’s second in 10 games since promotion back to the top-flight and it lifted the team out of the relegation zone.
It also ended Fulham’s penalty nightmare.
“I didn’t feel pressure,” said Cavaleiro, who slipped before shanking a penalty over the bar in last week’s 3-2 home loss to Everton. “That happens in football and the manager just gave me confidence to take it and I did.”
A penalty proved to be pivotal in Monday’s late match, with Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins hitting the bar with a second-half effort to allow West Ham to hold on for a 2-1 win at its Olympic Stadium and climb to fifth place.
Watkins also had a stoppage-time goal ruled out by the video assistant referee when his outstretched arm was adjudged to have made him offside before he turned in a cross from the left. It was an agonizing wait for Watkins and Villa’s players as the VAR deliberated over the narrow decision for nearly three minutes, drawing lines on the screen.
“We’ve had a goal disallowed for a part of the body that can’t score a goal anyway,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.
Leicester missed the chance to move level on points with first-placed Tottenham and second-placed Liverpool. Villa could have jumped into the top four with a win.
After one of the team’s goals, Fulham’s players paid tribute to former player Papa Boupa Diop following his death.
Ademola Lookman went to the touchline and held up Senegal’s No. 19 jersey worn by Diop after scoring the 30th-minute opener at King Power Stadium with a low shot thanks to being played through by André-Frank Anguissa.
Diop, fondly nicknamed “Wardrobe” during his time at Fulham, played for the southwest London team from 2004-07. His death was announced on Sunday.
Cavaleiro added a second goal for the visitors in the 38th after Christian Fuchs tripped Bobby De Cordova Reid.
Leicester struggled to break through the worst defense in the league, with an 86th-minute goal from substitute Harvey Barnes all the team could manage.
West Ham took advantage of Villa’s slow starts in each half to score their goals.
Angelo Ogbonna headed home inside the first two minutes from a corner by Jarrod Bowen, who scored the second less than a minute into the second half by flicking in a header from halftime sub Said Benrahma.
Jack Grealish scored with a deflected shot between those goals for Villa, which dominated the second half.