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First Team

Hodgson on Mateta, Benteke and newly-confident Fulham

26 February 2021

Roy Hodgson says the nature of the victory over Brighton & Hove Albion will give his side confidence ahead of a meeting with a resurgent Fulham side.

“In particular, I thought the desire and the spirit and the confidence to do what we asked them to do, to keep Brighton at bay, was really good to see,” he said in his pre-match press conference.

“I’d be wrong to try and play that down. The atmosphere after the game, the player’s awareness that they had had to work so hard to come away with those three points. The nature of winning those three points with the last kick of the game.

“There is no worse way to lose a game than the very last kick, when you thought you were doing quite well and you might win the game – but there’s no better way to win it. They knew they had given their all and all that could be expected to bring about that result.

“Everyone was delighted on the way home, and in training this week we’ve seen lots of smiling faces. Let’s hope that continues tomorrow before Fulham.”

The manager was pleased with the performance of his two scorers on Monday night, and believes that both Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke will benefit from their goals.

“I think it will do a lot for [Mateta’s] confidence going forwards,” Hodgson said. “That’s a word I often mention to the players, and to get confidence you need to do what he did the other night.

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“The same applies to Christian Benteke. One expects goalscorers to get confidence from those matters. It’s also good when the fans watch the goal and really appreciate the goal, and start taking the players to heart.

“It’s still early days for Jean-Philippe, he’s still finding his feet to an extent, but you can’t have a better start than scoring a goal of that nature.”

Hodgson was full of praise for Sunday’s opposition, a Fulham side that has found a rich vein of form after a tough start to the season.

“The coaching staff and the manager Scott [Parker] have obviously done a really good job in improving the side from the team that we met at the start of the season,” he said.

“I’d go as far as to say there is little comparison from that side. Now they are doing all the things that any management and coaching staff would want from players. Six points from nine; if you look at the form table over the last couple of months I would think they would be right up at the top rather than at the bottom, but of course they’re playing catch-up.

“We’re looking forward to another very difficult game and we’ll have to pull out all the stops to be smiling by the end of the game.”

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