Gary O’Neil may be questioning whether VAR was created solely to frustrate him at this point. Was it a clear and obvious foul? It was undeniable that Harry Wilson took advantage of João Gomes’s lack of experience when he fell over his outstretched leg in added time. Gomes’s actions were barely a challenge and Fulham would not have had reason to complain if Michael Salisbury had allowed play to continue.
However, there could be interference from Stockley Park. There was a small amount of contact from Gomes, which prompted Stuart Attwell to have Salisbury review the footage on the sideline. Wilson executed the play gracefully, falling dramatically. Fulham, hoping to secure their first victory in five league games, were determined to earn the points. Willian, who had already scored a controversial penalty earlier in the second half, sealed Marco Silva’s team’s victory by scoring a low penalty kick past José Sá, placing them 10 points above the relegation zone.
The crowd at Craven Cottage cheered loudly. Fulham had almost lost their chance of winning. As they improved their scoring skills and played with style, they also struggled to protect their goal. They were ahead twice, but their opponents caught up each time. Matheus Cunha responded to Alex Iwobi’s early goal for Wolves with a great equalizer in the first half, and the exceptional Hwang Hee- chan, who tied the game 2-2 with a penalty 15 minutes before the end, gave Tim Ream a hard time.
However, Silva could make a case for deserving a reward for his refusal to settle for just one point. Fulham’s midfield was weakened without João Palhinha, who was suspended, and they did not perform convincingly even after taking the lead for the third time. Hwang had one last chance with a volley that narrowly missed. Fulham’s relief was immense.
However, the enduring image remains O’Neil storming off at the end of the game, his face full of anger. Throughout this season, Wolves have faced crucial decisions that have gone against them, including matches against Manchester United, Luton, Newcastle, and Sheffield United. As a result, points have been lost and apologies have been made. Three referees have been demoted to the Championship for making inexplicable mistakes that have hurt Wolves. Attwell and Salisbury may also face consequences. O’Neil even shared that Salisbury had admitted to him that he should have reviewed Fulham’s first penalty, which was awarded after Nélson Semedo was deemed to have fouled Tom Cairney.
The coach of the Wolves expressed a long list of grievances. He was unable to comprehend why Ream was not given a second yellow card for his foul on Hwang, resulting in a penalty. He was even more confused when Carlos Vinícius remained on the field after seemingly head-butting Max Kilman in the 87th minute.
“I spoke with the referee,” O’Neil stated. “He expressed regret for not being able to review the first penalty on the screen, and believes he would have overturned it based on the footage he saw. He also believes that Ream should have received a second yellow card. We also discussed the head-butt incident. He argued that it was a minor incident, but I disagreed.”
“A representative from the team has stated that they believe the call should have been a red card. However, they feel confident that the decision on the Wilson incident was correct. Personally, I disagree as there was only minimal contact and I don’t believe it warranted a red card. I sympathize with the fans and feel that this decision has cost us seven points. While apologies and gestures may be made, the fact remains that we should currently have 22 points.”
Unfortunately, the most recent incident involving the referees drew attention away from an exciting game. In response to Palhinha’s absence, Silva substituted in Cairney for his midfield skills. Fulham gained the lead when Iwobi connected with Willian, who then passed to Antonee Robinson on the overlap. Robinson’s cross allowed Iwobi to score his debut goal for Fulham.
The Wolves faced difficulties without Craig Dawson, who was suspended in defense. Despite Fulham’s attempts to increase their lead with Raúl Jiménez and Cairney, they left openings at the opposite end. In the 14th minute, Mario Lemina made a move and passed to Hwang, whose shot hit the crossbar. Later, Jean-Ricner Bellegarde found an opening on the right and successfully crossed to Cunha, who headed the ball into the goal past Bernd Leno.
The Wolves had regained their left wing-back, Rayan Aït-Nouri, after he had to leave the field due to injury. They were dominating Fulham and nearly scored a second goal before halftime. Fulham needed to gain control of the midfield from Bellegarde, Lemina, and Gomes.
At the beginning of the second half, there was a greater sense of urgency. Fulham prevented Wolves from building up their play from the back and Cairney took on a more aggressive role, successfully stealing the ball from Lemina with a strong tackle. This led to Andreas Pereira initiating another offensive move. Cairney assumed control and was fouled by Semedo, resulting in a penalty being awarded by referee Salisbury after a thorough review by Attwell. Willian then scored, putting Fulham back in the lead.
The wolves reacted and their confidence increased when Sá made a vital save from Iwobi. They were back on equal footing when Hwang took advantage of Calvin Bassey’s mistake. Ream, who was already carrying a yellow card, fouled him and Hwang successfully converted the penalty kick.
The match appeared to be heading towards a tie, but substitute Wilson had different plans. The assist was credited to the player at Stockley Park.