Nemanja Matic struck in the 91st minute to secure the three points for the visitors and to complete their comeback, with the Eagles having led 2-0 on 50 minutes in SE25.
The nature of the defeat was hard to take, and the boss spoke honestly of his feelings on the display and the scoreline in his post-match press conference.
Asked for his overriding emotion: "Sadness. Total sadness. I saw a group of players give their all for the club, for their teammates against – on paper at least – overwhelming odds and to come away with nothing from the game, as we did on Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur, for the second time in a row… I feel very sad for them. I’m proud of the performance and I can’t criticise any player for the effort or the work they put in, their discipline tactically. It’s just one of those things, Lukaku scores a great equaliser and then in the very last minutes of the game the ball falls kindly and Matic scores a worldie from 25-30 metres which leaves the goalkeeper with no chance. If that ball goes over the crossbar or hits the crossbar and comes out or goes wide of the goal, I’d have been sitting here saying ‘well done guys’ and what a good performance, what a good point. As it is, you lose, so everything gets changed as a result."
On the second half threat of United: "We did [work hard in the first half] and they didn’t do that badly towards the end either. You know you’re going to eb asked some questions defensively when there’s Rashford, there’s Lukaku, there’s Mata, there’s Lingard, there’s Sanchez on the field, flying forward. There’s Luke Shaw flying forward down one wing, you’re going to be asked lots of questions defensively and I thought we answered them for the most part. We weren’t lacking in opportunities ourselves. At 2-2 Benteke had a very good header saved by De Gea, a very good save. We had a few other good crossing situations where we could have got the winning goal ourselves, but it wasn’t to be so we put this game to bed as well, like one must, and we prepare for the next one – which will be equally as difficult. Chelsea are the Champions of England, they may not be at the end of the season, but they will be until Man City are crowned Champions. It’s set to be a very, very difficult game for us, especially as at the moment the 11 we have playing are the 11 we have."
On the fight to come: "We’re in the relegation zone, but after seven games everyone told me that we were relegated. At the moment we aren’t relegated, we’re in the relegation zone, so I think that’s a positive. We were eight points adrift of any sort of safety, now I think we’re one point adrift of safety and there’s lots of games to go. I don’t think I should need convincing that the team has qualities. The team has determination and enormous fighting spirit. Who knows, maybe some of these last minute goals and these fortunate moments will fall for us as the season unfolds. Whether you’re in the relegation zone or just outside of it the situation doesn’t differ that much as you still have to get points to get to the necessary number that’s going to keep you in the league. That’s what we’re focusing on. If we can get some of the players of quality and experience that we have currently in the treatment room back onto the field then who knows? It will certainly help the other senior players, who are doing such a wonder job at the moment, in their efforts."
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