LONDON: Willian converted two of the game’s three second-half penalties — including the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time — to help Fulham defeat Wolverhampton 3-2 in another English Premier League match dominated by VAR calls on Monday.
The former Brazil winger’s first spot kick in the 59th minute made it 2-1, only for Hwang Hee-chan to win and then convert his own penalty in the 75th to leave an end-to-end game at Craven Cottage heading for a draw.
There was a late twist as Wolves midfielder Joao Gomes miscontrolled the ball in his own area and stuck out his leg, which brushed against Fulham substitute Harry Wilson as he nipped in to take possession.
After a long video review, the on-field decision to not award a penalty was changed and Willian stepped up to send his kick into the bottom-left corner, giving Fulham a third league win.
Fulham held the lead three times in the match, firstly after Alex Iwobi steered in a cross by Antonee Robinson in the seventh minute. That was canceled out by Brazil striker Matheus Cunha’s header in the 22nd.
It was only a second loss in their last eight games for Wolves, whose other defeat in that period — at struggling Sheffield United — also came after conceding a contentious stoppage-time penalty.
Wolves manager Gary O’Neil has lamented his team’s misfortune from refereeing decisions this season, starting in the first round in August when Wolves was denied a late penalty against Manchester United for what appeared to be a clear foul by goalkeeper Andre Onana. O’Neil received an apology on that occasion and has been aggrieved at penalties given against his team in draws against Newcastle and Luton.
His post-match media duties at Fulham were delayed while he spoke to the match officials. When he did emerge, O’Neil said referee Michael Salisbury “pretty much admitted that they made a mistake” in awarding the first penalty.
“It’s six-to-seven points now that’s gone against us,” O’Neil said. “The difference (refereeing decisions) are making to my reputation, the club’s progression up the league, people’s livelihoods, is huge.
“Things need to get better, because I can’t accept us being on the wrong end of decisions as much as we are.”
The relegation picture in the league has been made more interesting this season by Everton getting docked a league-record 10 points for financial mismanagement, plunging the Merseyside team into next-to-last place just as it was picking up wins and potentially ready to enjoy a rare nerve-free campaign.
Fulham have benefitted from that ruling, which is under appeal, and are 10 points clear of the bottom three after a first win in five matches.
“We showed very good spirit, a winning spirit to score for 2-1 and then for 3-2,” Fulham manager Marco Silva said. “It was a close game — we were trying to win the game more than Wolves.”
It was only the second time a league game has had three second-half penalties scored — after Everton vs. Newcastle in September 2003 — and all three calls were up for debate.
The first one was the most contentious, with replays showing little contact as Wolves right back Nelson Semedo planted his foot near that of Tom Cairney.
Willian displayed calmness with both of his spot kicks. He is yet to miss any of the seven he has taken in the Premier League.