Speaking after the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, Roy Hodgson praised the opposition and discussed the difficulties that arised, tactically, when his Eagles pushed for that late, dramatic equaliser.
Asked about the qualities of this Manchester City side, Hodgson discussed the difficulty his Palace side faced today: "That is not only our task but it is the task of quite a lot of other teams in the league when they come up against Man City. It is what you prepare for, it is not difficult to see where their strengths lie. But it is so difficult getting that balance right, making sure you don’t get totally torn apart tactically, and at the same time putting them under enough pressure to concern them in some way.
"I thought we did better in the second half but bottom line is, you analyse the goals you conceded afterwards about various aspects of your own defensive play that could’ve been better but if they hadn’t had scored their goals that way, they would’ve scored them another way.
"All you can hope for, I think, is you can hope that the players stay in the game as much as they can, they don’t ever give up, they don’t throw their arms up in the air and say: ‘this is impossible, whatever we do they’re playing through us’. You hope by doing that, that you can get back into the game as we did from a very good free-kick and start to make them think: ‘this isn’t as easy as we thought, this isn’t all over’.
"But in doing so, what invariably happens is you stretch yourself, go to 4-4-2, you put a winger on, you play two guys up front and encourage your full-backs to push up and then they break on you and score a third goal and put the game to bed."
Hodgson's side put in a battling performance, and that is something that Pep Guardiola clearly expected of the south Londoners, with the Spaniard going for all his "big hitters" at Selhurst Park:
"Fernandinho, I don’t know where he was, maybe he isn’t fit and Fabian Delph wasn’t even there.
"With that strong of a squad they have to select from, they certainly paid us the respect of putting a very strong team out there today. All the big hitters, that I am certain Pep is hoping will take them to this quadruple, played against us today and that doesn’t make your task any easier but I can only congratulate them on the victory."
Today's matchwinner, Raheem Sterling, scored his 16th and 17th goals of the Premier League campaign, and although it represented a bad afternoon for the Eagles, Hodgson could appreciate the growth of a player that he managed as England manager:
"Very impressed (with Sterling), he deserves a lot of credit as an individual, for doing the work he needed to do on his game to take his game to the next level.
"I am pretty sure he has had a lot of assistance from his manager and the manager’s coaching staff, and the quality of players around him. I don’t know if he pays tribute to that, but I am sure he would, and it has certainly been a factor in his development and he has developed so well thanks to him and the effort he’s put into the game.
"It is interesting for us to see what efforts players like him will put into his game, not really when they’re on the attack and the things everyone gives them credit for but the side of the game that a lot of quality players don’t really want to do: seeing him chase back to get Wilf Zaha, to prevent Zaha getting into a situation where he might be 1-v-1, I think that is a great credit him.
"He has always had that in him from the beginning but he has retained all that whilst improving aspects of his game like his decision-making, his goalscoring and ability to control the ball and beat a man."