Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has hit out at Dimitri Payet, accusing the West Ham star of diving in an attempt to trick his way to a penalty during the two sides' FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford yesterday.
Payet looked to have stolen the show with a stunning free-kick that moved the Hammers towards an appearance at Wembley for the semi-finals, only for Anthony Martial to strike back and force a replay.
Before his moment of magic, which you can check out below, the Frenchman went down inside the area in what appeared to be an attempt to win a penalty. Referee Martin Atkinson didn't award the spot-kick and after the full-time whistle Van Gaal vented his frustration over the fact that Payet wasn't sent off for a second yellow card before he had the chance to change the game.
The Dutchman said: “Payet was more or less diving. He was maybe touched, but not enough to fall like that. But there are always discussions about the decisions of the referee.”
West Ham boss Slaven Billic responded immediately to Van Gaal's claims, insisting Payet should have been awarded a penalty. “For me, it should have been a penalty on Dimitri,” he said. “A dive? Come on. If you have a screen I am going to show you and defend my point at Cambridge [Union]. You can clearly see there is contact. So it’s definitely not a dive, 100 per cent not a dive.
“If you’re sliding in your own box from behind, then you’re taking a risk. It wasn’t nasty, it was mistimed, nowhere near the ball."
Billic also hit back over Manchester United's equaliser, claiming it should have been ruled out for a foul on West Ham 'keeper Darren Randolph. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared to charge into the shotstopper as Martial tucked home his equaliser.
"It was an obvious foul from Schweinsteiger on Randloph, because if he didn’t, then he would have got to the ball,” he added.
Manchester United now face perhaps the biggest period of their season as they cling on to their chances of claiming silverware. Next up is the second-leg of their Europa League clash against Liverpool in which they must overcome a 2-0 deficit, before the replay against West Ham is set.
The Red Devils were handed a boost in their pursuit of a top four finish after Manchester City's goalless draw with Norwich over the weekend, and they can narrow the gap to just one point when they take on Manuel Pellegrini's side on Sunday.