LONDON: Aston Villa were relieved after a contentious VAR decision rescued a draw for them at West Ham and edged them further ahead of Tottenham in the battle for the fourth Champions League spot.

Michail Antonio had put the Hammers in front after 29 minutes with his first league goal since August. Substitute Nicolo Zaniolo levelled as Villa stormed back with 11 minutes left but West Ham thought they had won it through Konstantinos Mavropanos in the 10th minute of stoppage time. Instead the ‘goal’ was ruled out for handball by Tomas Soucek after a five-minute VAR delay.

This was the third West Ham ‘goal’ ruled out by Australian referee Jarred Gillett who was surrounded by angry home players plus baffled manager David Moyes after the final whistle. Hammers, midweek winners against Freiburg, have now dropped points in six of their eight Premier matches directly after a Europa League fixture

Villa are three points ahead of Tottenham who have a game in hand and who will thus be even more upset with their derby nightmare at Fulham on Saturday.

Tottenham could have overtaken Villa, at least for 24 hours, had they won at Fulham. Instead their worst display of the season ended in a 3-0 derby defeat. Captain Heung-min Son said: “It’s very frustrating. The performance and attitude were not good enough. Everybody has to look in the mirror and say: ‘It is my fault’. Everyone needs a big wake-up call.

“In the Premier League if you are not ready you get punished. For us this is two steps backwards.”

Fulham’s Brazilian winger Rodrigo Muniz struck twice either side of a first Premier goal from Sasa Lukic. Muniz has scored seven goals in his past seven games. Tottenham badly missed injured Micky van der Ven in the centre of defence. Ominously Van der Ven’s last injury set Spurs on a four-game run without a win.

Substitute Timo Werner, scorer of two goals in his previous two games, revived memories of his Chelsea days when he missed from close range in the second half but Spurs were already three goals down and well beaten.