Boss fumes at dismissal

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola was left steaming following the dismissal of midfielder Radoslav Kovac in the closing stages of Saturday s 2-2 draw at Sunderland, writes DAVE EVANS. With four minutes to go at the Stadium of Light, Kovac attempted to control

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola was left steaming following the dismissal of midfielder Radoslav Kovac in the closing stages of Saturday's 2-2 draw at Sunderland, writes DAVE EVANS.

With four minutes to go at the Stadium of Light, Kovac attempted to control the ball in the middle of the park. His touch, as ever, was not the best, but the ball was in the air and he was preparing to kick it when Sunderland striker Darren Bent stole in to try and intercept.

Kovac swung a boot, it connected with Bent and the pair of them went down injured. But when both had recovered, referee Andre Marriner deemed that it had been an intentional foul and issued the Czech international with his second yellow card.

"I've got something to say about our sending off," said the normally reserved Zola after the match. "Kovac didn't even see the guy. He took the ball and Kovac kicked the player. There was no intention and he didn't even see him."


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The decision was the final straw for the distressed manager, who had seen his team throw away a two-goal lead in a dismal second-half display.

"I was too upset to ask the referee anything, and I didn't have the opportunity to speak to him, but you can see the game at any time and Kovac didn't see Bent. I was five metres away and I saw it clearly, you can have a look on the video and confirm my words," he said.

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"It is the second time we have had a man sent off and he didn't deserve it. It's okay and mistakes can happen, but I want to make it clear what happened. It's not a complaint and I'm not blaming the referee."

Zola certainly doesn't like to throw blame at the officials, but he must have been sorely tempted.

The referee, who was slammed by Alex Ferguson last week for not being up to the job, looked flustered by the home crowd after being roundly booed at half time.

Sunderland certainly pla-yed out of their skins in the second half, but Marriner played his part too. He was quick to award decisions in the home team's favour, even overruling the linesman.

And he seemed keen to even up the numbers, by giving a West Ham player his marching orders, with Kovac the victim of a very poor decision.

"I don't like to criticise referees as they are human beings and sometimes they can be put under pressure," said Zola with his cloak of reserve back on again.

"The atmosphere was quite intense - even on the bench it was quite intense, but that is understandable. I have no blame for the referee, I'm just upset about our second half.

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