VAR was at the centre of the action yet again as West Ham had a late equaliser ruled out in their 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
Just hours after Blades boss Chris Wilder was handed a new long-term contract, his side got back to winning ways to continue their dream season by climbing up into fifth in the table.
A bad mistake by substitute keeper David Martin handed Oli McBurnie the opener for the Blades in the second half after a flast first 45 minutes at Bramall Lane.
The Hammers thought they'd rescued a point right at the death when Robert Snodgross squeezed a shot under Dean Henderson, but VAR had other ideas and it was chalked off for a handball in the build-up by Declan Rice.
It was another decision that will be added to the catalogue of VAR decisions that are correct to the letter of the law but don't seem to sit right within the spirit of the game - as the handball was accidental, only slight and didn't affect that play at all.
Still, the one thing you can't level at the new technology in football is the drama it creates, as the away end went from dilerium to silence with one blow of the referee's whistle, while the decision then sent the rest of the stadium into wild celebrations after thinking they'd lost two points late on.
Early Hammers blow
West Ham suffered an early blow as they lost goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski to injury after 14 minutes. The Pole, who has only recently returned from a hip problem, appeared to hurt himself as he took a goal-kick.
Fabianski looked distraught as he left the pitch, with Martin coming on in his place, and it was the sub keeper who would have a big impact on the game for the wrong reason.
Sheffield United went in front in the 53rd minute thanks to a terrible error from Martin, with the keeper's poor pass picked off by John Fleck, who set up McBurnie to score.
The home side wasted a host of chances to increase their lead and looked to have been pegged back at the death when West Ham thought they had levelled.
Declan Rice surged forward from midfield and played in Snodgrass, whose shot squeezed past Henderson.
But the goal was ruled out by VAR for a handball by Rice in the build-up. The ball was actually headed onto his arm by a Sheffield United head and Rice and the West Ham side were distraught at the decision.
And the Blades saw out the rest of the match to earn a 1-0 victory which took them up to fifth place in the table.
Sheffield United 1–0 West Ham United Opta stats
- West Ham’s defeat means London clubs have now lost each of their last eight Premier League games at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United since Chelsea won 2-0 there in October 2006.
- Sheffield United have now won 14 points from the last 21 available at home in the Premier League (W4 D2 L1), with their only defeat in this run coming against Newcastle at the beginning of December (0-2).
- West Ham have become the first team since Southampton in March 2016 to fail to score in four consecutive visits to newly-promoted clubs in the Premier League.
- West Ham boss David Moyes has suffered his first defeat to Sheffield United in any competition in seven games (W4 D2), since a 2-3 loss as Preston manager back in December 2000 in the second-tier.
- None of the last 18 Premier League games to be played on a Friday have ended level since Arsenal and Liverpool drew 3-3 back in December 2017.
- Sheffield United made one change to their starting line-up following their defeat to Liverpool last time out, their 26th of the season; indeed, no side has made fewer alterations to their Premier League starting XI this season than the Blades (Burnley, also 26).
- David Martin and Roberto Jiménez have made a combined three errors leading to a goal in 13 appearances for West Ham in the Premier League this season, whereas Lukasz Fabianski is yet to do so in 10 games this campaign for the Hammers.
- Sheffield United ‘keeper Dean Henderson has now kept eight clean sheets in the Premier League this season – the joint-most in the competition in 2019-20 alongside Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel.
- West Ham full-back Pablo Zabaleta tonight made his 300th Premier League appearance against Sheffield United (230 Man City, 70 West Ham), becoming just the third South American to reach this total after Nolberto Solano (302) and Antonio Valencia (325).