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Saturday, January 22, 2011
Grant rues 'joke' sending off

West Ham manager Avram Grant branded the red card he believes cost his side two points in their 2-2 draw at Everton "a joke".

The Hammers looked set to move off the bottom of the Premier League as Frederic Piquionne headed them into a 2-1 lead with six minutes remaining at Goodison Park.

But Piquionne, who had been booked four minutes earlier, leapt over advertising hoardings to celebrate with supporters and was shown a second yellow card on his return to the field.

Without him Everton pressed on and snatched a point in injury time as Marouane Fellaini, pushed into service up front, jinked into the area and fired past Robert Green.

"The red card was a joke," Grant said, having narrowly missed out on a victory that would have been a huge lift at the end of a week dominated by intense speculation over his future as manager.

"He scored a goal and went to celebrate with the supporters. He has not done anything wrong - he went to celebrate with the people who deserve to more than anybody.

"I know it is the law but it is a stupid law and we need to change it.

"You never know but I think if we had stayed with 11 players we would have won the game because we were the better team. They didn't create chances but when we were a man short it was a little difficult."

West Ham showed determination to fight for their manager from the onset as Piquionne and Mark Noble both shot narrowly over early on. Jonathan Spector gave them the lead after 27 minutes as he slid in his fourth goal in two months at the end of a slick move.

Piquionne then hit the post and Luis Boa Morte had a goal disallowed for offside but Everton eventually replied when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov struck with a superb half-volley on 77 minutes.

Grant said: "They showed a lot of good spirit, a lot of good football and a lot of tactical awareness.

"We dominated the game in the first half and could have scored more - we hit the post and another was offside. We created a lot of chances and after scoring the second one we were unlucky.

"Since the beginning of the season the players have shown a lot of commitment. I am very proud of the players."

Everton have lost just once in eight games but their attempts to pull away from the bottom of the table continue to meet with frustration.

Manager David Moyes said: "It wasn't great but we got a point. It didn't look as if we were going to get any near the end.

"When we got back to 1-1 I thought we would go on and get the second goal but unfortunately they got a second. When you go 2-1 down at home you go for it anyway but when we saw the sending off it gave us a chance to attempt to throw the kitchen sink.

"Thankfully we got the equaliser and when it went to 2-2 I actually thought we could have used the last couple of minutes better than we did to try to get the winner."

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