Bilic 'proud' after Palace draw

Slaven Bilic cut a frustrated yet proud manager after Saturday's controversial 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with Crystal Palace
Slaven Bilic maintained his dignity after another controversial refereeing decision went against his West Ham United side in Saturday’s 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with Crystal Palace.

The Hammers had come from behind and were leading through goals from Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet – who netted another fantastic free-kick – when Cheikhou Kouyate lost control of the ball and challenged Dwight Gayle.

Referee Mark Clattenburg showed Kouyate the red card, to the clear frustration of the No8 and his teammates, and manager Bilic thought the official had got it wrong.

“I’m proud of the players,” he told West Ham TV. “Every time we play good football, especially when it comes together with passion and energy, I’m happy.

“Make no mistake, we are at a stage where we are trying to win every game and we are not happy because, if you’d asked if we’d take a point before the game, no way. But considering the circumstances of the game, this is a good point for us.

“The game had two parts – before the red card and after the red card – although after the red card we didn’t sink or sit back. It wasn’t the Alamo, but of course they gained more possession and were finding good situations more easily, but we also had moments in the game and we wanted to score the winning goal. It was a very exciting game.

“We knew they were going to be a big threat from set pieces, which they were and they scored a goal. Then we came back so good, so quick and in style and it wasn’t just about the result, but the way we played, that gave us confidence.

“We were so close to scoring a third goal that would have put us in a more comfortable situation, then the same pattern continued in the second half and then that thing happened.

“It’s kind of frustrating that it’s happened again. For me it’s very simple to judge that situation. It’s nowhere near a red card and I think that anyone who had anything in any part of his life to do with football should say the same thing – there was no red card, no yellow card and it was in England not even a foul.

“Let’s say it’s a foul and that’s it, and it had a big impact on the game.”

While clearly frustrated, the manager also expressed great pride in the way his team played superb football before going a man down, and created plenty of chances after being reduced to ten men in such circumstances.

The highlight came four minutes before half-time when Dimitri Payet was fouled 25 yards from goal before stepping up and dipping an inch-perfect free-kick into the far top corner – rather than over the seven-man wall and into the top left-hand corner.

“It was a great goal,” Bilic agreed. “The whole team were good and were dominating. We’re simply a good side playing great football.

“We were not happy when it was only 2-1 because we should have scored another one and put ourselves in an even better situation than we did.”