Roy Hodgson admitted that he would rather focus on gaining a fine point against Manchester City rather than dwell on the late opportunity to win the game as Palace held firm against their opponents to get a goalless draw.
The Eagles manager saw his side become the first team to prevent Pep Guardiola’s star-studded league leaders from scoring this season and halt their 18-game winning streak, but it could have been so much sweeter had Luka Milivojevic’s penalty had not been saved by Ederson in the dying stages.
Despite the late drama, the Eagles boss took a glass-half-full approach to matters, and he spoke about a number of issues in his post-match press conference, including:
Dressing room mood: “There’s an element of being very satisfied with the performance because we didn’t lose as many predicted we would, and there’s an element of frustration or sadness that we didn’t profit from the penalty that was awarded and get three points.
“The last element is being aware that this is a nice moment that we can savour for a brief period because we have to go to Southampton with one day’s rest with a lot of injuries. You’ll have to allow me to have a few minutes of enjoyment before midnight tonight in sending the crowd, and ourselves, home happy tonight because we’ve played a good game.”
Penalty miss: “It’s frustrating of course and it was a good save, but at a moment like this it is more important to concentrate on the performance and how well we played. We have to give the players an enormous pat on the back for the level of their performance and the way they conducted themselves throughout, and if I was to be brutally honest with five minutes to go I was thinking about making certain of our point rather than going on to win it.
“The opportunity that came was a great bonus with the penalty being rewarded, but it was a similar situation to the Bournemouth game and we didn’t take advantage. Maybe at the end of the season we will look back and say it was an enormous frustration to miss those two penalties, but after both games I have been more inclined to say ‘well done boys, that was a good point’.”
Defensive display: “I was very proud of the performance and I thought it was excellent in terms of tactical discipline, commitment and their focus, determination and concentration, because you only need to fall asleep for a brief moment against teams of this quality and they’ll punish you. They had to work unbelievably hard but that’s going to be the case for any team that plays against Manchester City between now and the end of the season; if you don’t work that hard you are likely to concede goals.
“I thought before the game that our best chance to get something from the game would be to score some goals because I know how good they are offensively, but luckily we kept them at bay and could even have won the game.”
Good individual performances: “It was so nice to see three players who haven’t had too many chances do well. Jairo Riedewald during my time has hardly had a chance at all, and Patrick van Aanholt and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have had very few, if any recently, to come in and play as well as they did.”
Switching Zaha to right flank: “Kyle Walker is very fast, as is Wilf, so there is an element of them neutralising each other. We thought towards the end of the game, especially with Sterling coming on on that side, that if might be an idea to switch them over because he and Andros are capable of playing on either wing. It wasn’t exactly a masterstroke though, it’s the sort of tactical decision my wife could make!”
“Wilf was very good. He puts in one excellent performance after another for the team, and the big question for me is how long can he keep it going? He keeps putting in performances like that week after week with very little break in between, and it amazes me. I can only hope he can keep it going.”
Injury-time chat with Guardiola: “It was nice of Pep to come over to me; we have met in the past at UEFA seminars albeit very briefly. It was two coaches chatting who have been in football for long enough and understand the nature of the business, have mutual respect for each other and took that opportunity to say a few words to each other and discuss what they had seen and the season.
“You never necessarily get those opportunities to share your thoughts after matches because we spent so much time with you people! [the press].”