West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa: Jay Rodriguez involved in handball controversy as

West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa: Jay Rodriguez in handball drama as he scores controversial late equaliser for Baggies after Anwar El Ghazi brace

  • Jay Rodriguez scored late equaliser for West Brom against Aston Villa 
  • Rodriguez was not punished for handling the ball twice before it crossed the line 
  • Anwar El Ghazi opened scoring for Villa before Dwight Gayle leveled
  • Dutchman proceeded to restore Villa’s lead in the 59th minute with fine strike 
  • West Brom remain in third place in the Championship with Villa in eighth 

Dean Smith could only shake his head and smile. Aston Villa were closing in on another big result that would have moved them into the play-off places, only for West Brom to equalise in scandalous fashion.

In the first minute of stoppage time Matt Phillips crossed and Jay Rodriguez bundled the ball in. The Hawthorns erupted. Except this was no header. It was a slam dunk.

In challenging goalkeeper Orjan Nyland, Rodriguez raised his hands and nudged the ball down, then as he fell his arm struck once more. The ball trickled in. 

Jay Rodriguez celebrates after his controversial late equaliser for West Brom on Friday night

Jay Rodriguez celebrates after his controversial late equaliser for West Brom on Friday night

Rodriguez, in controversial circumstances, handled the ball twice before it crossed the line

Rodriguez, in controversial circumstances, handled the ball twice before it crossed the line

The attacker is congratulated by his delighted West Brom team-mates at the Hawthorns

The attacker is congratulated by his delighted West Brom team-mates at the Hawthorns

MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE 

West Brom (4-3-3): Johnstone 7; Adarabioyo 6.5 (Burke 82), Dawson 7, Hegazi, Gibbs 7; Phillips 7, Livermore 6 (Brunt 72, 6), Barry 6; Gayle 7, Rodriguez 7, Barnes 7

Booked: Livermore, Hegazi

Subs not used: Myhill, Mears, Harper, Hoolahan, Sako

Manager: Darren Moore 7

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Nyland 6.5; Hutton 7, Tuanzebe 7, Chester 7.5, Taylor 6.5 (Elmohamady 53, 6.5); McGinn 7, Hourihane 7, Grealish 7.5 (Whelan 87); El Ghazi 8, Abraham 5, Bolasie 7 (Kodjia 82)

Subs not used: Bunn, Revan, O’Hare, Hogan

Manager: Dean Smith 8

MoM: El Ghazi

Ref: Darren England 5

Att: 26,513    

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Villa’s appeals were raised instantly and unanimously. In seconds social media christened it Hand of Rod. Oblivious, referee Darren England consulted his assistant on that side. Somehow the officials contrived to award the goal.

Rodriguez even put his hands up after the final whistle, admitting his good fortune. ‘It’s just how my hands fell, it’s luckily gone in, the referee has not seen it,’ he said.

It denied Villa a victory they deserved and punished the misses made by Tammy Abraham to make the win certain.

‘When you get a reaction from 11 players you know something is amiss,’ Smith said. ‘The officials haven’t done their job. We should have put the game to bed with the chances we had. Everybody here knows it should be three points.’ 

Rodriguez handled the ball on two occasions before it went over the line against Villa

Rodriguez handled the ball on two occasions before it went over the line against Villa

The Villa players protest against against referee Darren England's decision to give the goal

The Villa players protest against against referee Darren England’s decision to give the goal

Anwar El Ghazi (left) celebrates with Jack Grealish after scoring Aston Villa's second goal

Anwar El Ghazi (left) celebrates with Jack Grealish after scoring Aston Villa’s second goal

El Ghazi's second goal, a brilliant strike from distance in the 59th minute, made it 2-1 to Villa

El Ghazi’s second goal, a brilliant strike from distance in the 59th minute, made it 2-1 to Villa

El Ghazi opens the scoring for Villa in the 12th minute of the clash, via a huge deflection

El Ghazi opens the scoring for Villa in the 12th minute of the clash, via a huge deflection

Before kick-off you could get odds of 14/1 on this game ending goalless, but that was free money for the bookies. Scoring was inevitable.

Heading into the evening these two teams topped the Championship charts for goals this season. West Brom had been involved in 70, Villa 69. Their attacks have been freewheeling and, occasionally, the wheels have fallen off their defences.

So it did not take Nostradamus to predict an absence of clean sheets. And so it transpired, early, with Villa taking the lead in the 12th minute.

Anwar El Ghazi collected a West Brom clearance, cut inside and hit a shot that would have been saved by Sam Johnstone but for a major deflection off Ahmed Hegazi.

It was a carbon copy of Chelsea’s goal up the road at Molineux on Wednesday, and whether you give it the Villa winger or West Brom defender depends on your disposition. 

The Villa players congregate to congratulate El Ghazi after the Dutchman made it 2-1

The Villa players congregate to congratulate El Ghazi after the Dutchman made it 2-1

Dwight Gayle celebrates after equalising for West Brom against Villa in the Championship

Dwight Gayle celebrates after equalising for West Brom against Villa in the Championship

Gayle showed impressive composure to find the net in the 28th minute at The Hawthorns

Gayle showed impressive composure to find the net in the 28th minute at The Hawthorns

Villa had the next chance too, Johnstone making a fine low save to Abraham’s strike, but within 60 seconds West Brom had equalised.

Matt Phillips sparked a counter by launching the ball long to Harvey Barnes, who got the better of Alan Hutton and chipped a super pass for Dwight Gayle to run onto. Gayle cushioned a volley into the corner.

The match fizzed along to a bouncing atmosphere, and the chances kept coming. Jack Grealish found Abraham in yards of space but the Villa forward scuffed his finish.

John McGinn hit a pure strike from 30 yards but smacked the post. Into the second half Gayle met a deep cross by Kieran Gibbs but put his header over. 

Villa striker Tammy Abraham missed an inviting chance to score in the second half

Villa striker Tammy Abraham missed an inviting chance to score in the second half

Then, just before the hour, El Ghazi got a goal that was indisputably his. Grealish jinked his way across the final third and rolled the ball the Dutchman just before being clattered by Jake Livermore. El Ghazi took a couple of touches then cut a rocket of a shot into the top corner from 25 yards.

Villa should have been out of sight long before the final whistle but Abraham twice got himself in a horrible mess.

First he missed an easy chance from the edge of the six-yard box when found by Yannick Bolasie, the ball just behind him only minor mitigation. Then he headed wide from El Ghazi’s fine cross. He would be made to pay.