Slaven Bilic refused to criticise referee despite controversial calls in Souathampton defeat
Last Updated: 20/08/17 8:16pm
Slaven Bilic wouldn’t be drawn on referee Lee Mason’s performance after West Ham’s controversial defeat at Southampton.
The Saints ended their goal drought at St Mary's and increased 10-man West Ham's misery with a 3-2 Premier League victory secured by a stoppage-time penalty from Charlie Austin.
Mason sent-off Marko Arnautovic in the first-half after the Austrian elbowed Jack Stephens and then awarded a penalty for Jose Fonte's foul on Steven Davis, from which Dusan Tadic scored. A double from Javier Hernandez, either side of half-time, drew the visitors level but Mason awarded a dubious late penalty for a foul by Pablo Zabaleta.
"I don't want to talk about the penalty decisions, because there is no point talking about it," Bilic said.
"I only want to say that I'm very proud of my team and they showed everything I said - commitment, quality, character, team spirit and we never gave up.
"I don't want to talk about the red card, either. I am the manager and I want to talk about the game and the decisions are going to lead to someone else talking about it. Of course the player is disappointed, but I am going to talk about the quality of the game and not about the decisions.
"It's very hard to play with 10 men, especially as we were already one goal down. We then conceded a second goal and it was difficult to come back. On paper it was very difficult to keep it to 2-0, but we showed character and commitment and that we are fit enough to do it for each other."
Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives for Bilic to take, including the performance of Hernandez, who joined for £16million from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month.
The striker took both his goals nicely and put in a huge amount of work when asked to fill in on the left wing when the Hammers were defending with 10-men.
"He is a goalscorer but if we're also talking about him we must also talk about the second half, when we asked him to play on the wing because we needed to use his legs," Bilic said.
"We had to have two banks of four and sometimes defend with six when they attacked with their full-backs, so we have to praise him not only for his goals but also for his great attitude and great defensive work."