Cahill and his team-mates were on the receiving end of a two goal defeat to the reigning champions. Speaking post-match, he said: “Both keepers were outstanding. They pulled off some great saves. [The save] from Christian’s header, that’s an outrageous save, I don’t know how he kept it out. I was right behind it, it had power, it had direction – yet he tipped it onto the crossbar.”
Despite keeping City at bay for the opening 39 minutes, the former England defender was constructively critical of his team’s defending in the first half, taking into account the quality of the players facing them. “I felt that the second half was slightly better than the first. If I had any criticism of us, maybe we could have rushed them a bit more in possession. They are obviously very good, world class players – and they almost look to suck you out to play in behind. We sat in our shape but at times we could have rushed them in possession a bit more.”
That said, creating any sort of momentum from the back is a tall order for any defender facing City’s relentless attacking prowess, as Cahill explained: “For a defender, you’re waiting for them to make a backwards pass, so you can nick a few yards to squeeze up. Or you’re waiting for them to give possession away, which doesn’t happen very often. It’s tough. When they’ve got good possession and you try to squeeze up, the ball in behind is on all the time. For us, and other teams - it’s so difficult to get out and push up in the pitch. When we do win the ball back, we’re kind of deep and relying on some pace to break.”
Cahill was left ruing the second goal coming so soon after the first. He said: “From experience, in the second half it always opens up a little bit. People get tired and switch off a little bit – at both ends, it would opened up. If we’d have gone in at half time and 0-0 or 0-1, it gives us something to go for in the second half. The second goal was a killer for us, it was so quick after. Great bit of play, but disappointing on our part.”
Having been involved in successful title-winning campaigns, Cahill could feel the importance the opposition placed on today’s match at Selhurst Park, saying: “I sensed as though City felt it was a huge game, they had to win it - and they played like that.”
Head to Palace TV on the club’s official app for extensive post-match reaction, featuring Joel Ward, Roy Hodgson and Wayne Hennessey.