Fulham were given a helping hand towards relegation by Javier Hernandez as West Ham came from behind to secure a 3-1 victory.
Hernandez cancelled out Ryan Babel’s early strike by jabbing the ball in with his hand the far post.
It was a punch that knocked the stuffing out of Fulham, especially after it was replayed on the big screens to the dismay of the travelling fans.
Referee Lee Mason and his assistants missed it but video technology would have surely seen the goal disallowed, adding yet more weight to the ‘pro-VAR’ case.
That will be scant consolation to Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri, though, as his struggling side crashed to goals from Issa Diop and Michail Antonio.
Another defeat left the Cottagers eight points adrift of safety with just 11 matches to go, and that bleak picture could look even worse after the weekend fixtures.
Yet West Ham started the match as if they were still at last weekend’s warm-weather training camp in Marbella, almost gifting Fulham a goal after just 35 seconds.
An under-hit backpass from Pablo Zabaleta sent Babel through on goal but he was unable to beat Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from close range.
Babel did not fluff his next opportunity, however, tapping in a cross from Jean Michael Seri to give Fulham a third-minute lead.
Fulham have yet to win away all season but they sensed West Ham might be a little more accommodating than most.
However, not for the first time their defending from set-pieces let them down badly.
Diop went close to an equaliser when he headed wide before the Hammers hauled themselves level with Hernandez’s controversial 29th-minute goal.
The Mexican bundled the ball in at the far post after Fulham keeper Sergio Rico flapped at a corner and Angelo Ogbonna helped it on.
It was a 50th Premier League goal for former Manchester United striker Hernandez, all of which have come from inside the penalty area – but unfortunately for Fulham at least one of them was scored with his hand.
West Ham took the lead in the 40th minute when centre-back Diop was somehow allowed a run-up to score with a header from another Robert Snodgrass corner.
Bafflingly for a team supposedly fighting for its life, Fulham offered precious little in the second half.
West Ham were able to give a late cameo to Manuel Lanzini, the Argentinian’s first appearance of the season following a torn ACL.
Fellow sub Marko Arnautovic was denied a goal by a fine save from Rico, but he set up Antonio for the killer third in stoppage time as Fulham were shoved another step closer to the Championship.
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