Having seen his team win a game without Wilfried Zaha on the pitch, Palace boss Roy Hodgson was delighted that particular stat was put to bed following the 1-0 win against Leicester City.
Luka Milivojevic’s 30-yard blast secured the victory for the Eagles and record their first consecutive home wins of the campaign, while an excellent save from stand-in goalkeeper Vicente Guaita kept the Palace sheet clean in what was their eighth of the campaign in all competitions.
However, Hodgson’s team ground out an important three points without their star man for the first time since September 2016, and Hodgson is relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with that line of questioning again following a second straight Selhurst success.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Palace boss discussed a number of issues, including:
Win without Zaha: “It was a fact, but like all facts there’s often a story behind them. I think there’s been a lot of occasions that we’ve done more than enough to win games when he’s not playing, and we’ve played very well without him, but if it then turns out that good performance was a draw or an unfortunate defeat, the stark fact remains that we played, he didn’t and we lost.
“It’s nice we’ve managed to put that one to bed, but to be honest it’s something that’s got people talking and writing more than it’s actually got us thinking too much about because we’ve always known this day would come. It’ll be nice that there will be a different press conference next Friday, or maybe not because it will still be Wilf dominated because people will be telling me that we can win without him!”
Milivojevic’s goal: “He scores some good central free-kicks and I remember him scoring two goals [from there] so he obviously does have a good 20-25 metre strike in him. It was a good attack and one that I was convinced we would get the ball in behind them and getting people flooding in, but as it happened they defended that really well and we had to come out.”
Defensive display: “It was good to get another clean sheet today because we lost the goalkeeper [Wayne Hennessey] which we didn’t know until yesterday so Vicente Guaita, who had a very good game, was thrust in last minute and didn’t have much preparation.
“Of course we lost Tomkins and Zaha and Cheikhou Kouyaté who had an excellent first half, so we really had to dig in in that final 30 minutes to make certain that we did keep the clean sheet, and all credit not only to the goalkeeper but the back four for doing that.”
Guaita save from Vardy: “I’ve been to quite a lot of press conferences and you guys have told me that we were unlucky, that our football was good and with a bit more luck we would have gotten a better result. Today, for the first time I can give credence to that adage that good and back luck even themselves out because we were lucky not to concede the equaliser.
“Vicente made a good save because I know Jamie from when we were together at England and when he is played in that close to goal, I was expecting the ball to hit the back of the net. The good fortune was that the keeper got a hand to it and that it came back into his arms.”
Manner of win: “It was never going to be a pretty game because it was never going to be an open game. It was a spectacular goal that won it for us, and I was rather hoping in the second half as they threw more front players onto the field as they have quite a lot of riches on the bench, that we would get the break that would see us score the second, but we ran into Maguire and Morgan who produced some exceptional individual defending at times.
“It’s a result that we have to be more than satisfied with. Results that you get when your back is against the wall and the thought of not getting the result pushes you into an area that you don’t want to be in, you have to be more than satisfied with.
“The important thing is we’re sitting here tonight with three points in the bag, otherwise we would have found ourselves going into the next two games with far too few points.”