West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini claims that the referee made the wrong decision to award Manchester City a penalty, as the Hammers failed to recover and were left defeated 1-0.
The Chilean's return to the Etihad Stadium proved to be fruitless despite a spirited display from his players, as the Hammers kept their hosts at bay for the best part of an hour before a suspicious penalty gifted City the lead, which they duly held on to.
Pellegrini's side had defended resolutely up until that point and were understandably incensed when referee Stuart Attwell awarded City a penalty, after Bernardo Silva collapsed following the slightest of touches from Felipe Anderson. The Hammers could not restore parity thereafter, going down 1-0 to Pep Guardiola's men.
Like his players, Pellegrini was exasperated by the decision that ultimately decided the outcome of the match: "We lost to a penalty that was not a penalty," he said, speaking in the post-match press conference as quoted by Sky Sports.
"In the other box, maybe if Lanzini goes to the floor then maybe he can whistle. They had other chances after the penalty, but we ultimately lost to it so I'm unhappy."
Is the contact enough to make a man fall over? No. Does he fall over? Yes. Does that make it a dive? Yes.— harry (@WHUHarry_) February 27, 2019
West Ham had suffocated City's attacks up until that moment, with goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański having had little to do between the sticks. They had clearly implemented Pellegrini's game plan effectively, reducing the champions to a handful of half-chances.
"Apart from the first 10 minutes, we defended well," Pellegrini added. "I think if you review the match, Lukasz Fabianski only made one or two saves. I think the penalty was the first risk that he had on his goal."
The 65-year-old seemed to have had a less than pleasurable evening at his old club in spite of the warm reception he received from the Etihad crowd. Not even his team's encouraging display could lift the spirits as his focus remained firmly on the injustice of the result.
"We defended well but we didn't look after the ball well enough. Considering that we have eight players injured, and four players that we rested, of course I can't be very unhappy with the result.
"We had the first clear chance [Andy Carroll's shot], but I think the decisive moment was the penalty. We know they have a lot of players that can make the difference, but we worked well and our intention was to recover the ball and have speed in front."
The defeat leaves West Ham in 10th place, but thanks to Wolves' result against Huddersfield they remain only four points away from seventh and a potential European spot. They will hope to get back to winning ways quickly, however they'll be facing a resolute Newcastle side in their next Premier League outing.