Chelsea penalty call leaves West Ham's Slaven Bilic enraged, team 'gutted'
LONDON -- West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said referee Robert Madley's decision to award Chelsea a late penalty was "unacceptable" after the Blues twice came from a goal down to claim a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Madley pointed to the spot in the 89th minute after judging that Michail Antonio had tripped Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but replays showed the initial contact might have happened outside the West Ham area.
A superb Cesc Fabregas free-kick cancelled out Manuel Lanzini's 25-yard curler in the first half, but substitute Andy Carroll's 61st-minute strike put West Ham on the verge of victory at Stamford Bridge until the penalty call allowed Fabregas to score his second.
"To concede a goal that late is gutting, and to concede it from a penalty that wasn't a penalty is unacceptable," Bilic said at his postmatch news conference.
"To concede this kind of goal -- it was not close to the line, it was way out. It wasn't a penalty. We're not getting those kind of decisions, so we are gutted.
"I'm not talking whether he touched him, I'm talking about where the contact was made. And it wasn't sliding, so it shouldn't be difficult for the referee to see.
"We could have two points more. We could go over Manchester City [in the table], put the pressure on them. We deserved it. On the one hand we're really proud of our performance, but we're gutted."
Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink took a different view, saying he felt the decision of whether to award a penalty or free kick was marginal and that Loftus-Cheek deserved the benefit of the doubt.
"I thought it was on the line when he was tripped," the Dutchman added. "Loftus-Cheek was about to score because he was going towards the goal.
"It was a very close call, but the line is part of the box. When there is any doubt, the benefit of the doubt should go to the attacking team.
"I think it's a fair result. We started the first minutes OK, then we got a sloppy period where we lost the ball very easily.
"That made the team a little bit uncertain but they reacted 10 minutes before half-time and it was a beautiful free kick from Fabregas. That gave the team a little bit of comfort.
"The second half we controlled the game but we were caught in a counter. The team had to react -- and they did."
The draw preserves Chelsea's unbeaten run in the Premier League since Hiddink returned to Stamford Bridge in December, but they are 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with just eight matches left to play.
"Our target now is to see if we can get a European spot," the manager said.
"Secondly, it's always important that the players have to show why they are playing in a big club. Pride is also at stake when you've had the experience of the first half of this season."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.