Under-pressure Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson described Monday’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea as “cruel” and “harsh” on his team, who he thought deserved something from the game.
Palace looked to be on their way to a morale-boosting Premier League victory when Jefferson Lerma took advantage of some loose play from Noni Madueke to crash home a 25-yard strike in the first half, his first goal for the Eagles giving them a deserved lead.
However, the pattern of the game totally changed in the second half after Mauricio Pochettino introduced Christopher Nkunku as a second Chelsea striker, and Conor Gallagher equalised against his former loan club soon after the restart.
Gallagher then picked out the bottom-left corner one minute into second-half stoppage time to complete the turnaround, before Enzo Fernandez added a late third on the break.
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The result will do little to ease supporter unrest at Selhurst Park, where banners criticising the club’s direction were again unfurled before kick-off.
Hodgson’s position is sure to come under renewed scrutiny after another miserable defeat for his team, but the former England boss does not believe they deserved to finish on the losing side.
“It was extremely cruel,” Hodgson told BBC Sport. “But the game is about goals and unfortunately we made mistakes which led to goals. I thought it was harsh because our defending was good.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) February 12, 2024
“We didn’t make that many errors and our goalkeeper was not exactly peppered with shots.
“The third goal is a nail in the coffin but when you are 2-1 down with a few minutes to go, all teams do the same and throw everybody forward hoping a ball will bounce kindly for an equaliser.
“It led to an aggravated defeat but I don’t think that is a fair reflection on the way the game was played. I think we deserved to come off with at least one point.”
Palace remain five points clear of the relegation zone after seeing rivals Everton, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest all suffer defeats at the weekend, though the Eagles have now won just two of their last 15 games across all competitions (four draws, nine losses).
They face six-pointers against two of the teams below them in the table before the end of February, going to Everton next Monday before welcoming Burnley to Selhurst Park five days later.
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 12, 2024