BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson admitted he risked conceding a third Manchester City goal after he pushed his side forward in the aftermath of Luka Milivojevic reducing a two-goal deficit.
The Eagles boss reacted to the Serbian’s goal – a sweetly-struck free-kick – by pushing Wilfried Zaha up alongside striker Christian Benteke and switching to a 4-4-2 from the flat and narrow 4-5-1 used for the previous 85 minutes at Selhurst Park.
But the change ceased to work as the Ivorian forward lost possession in City’s half before the visitors broke, with Kevin de Bruyne teeing up Gabriel Jesus to add to Raheem Sterling’s earlier double.
Hodgson said: “We scored a very good free-kick and when that goes in to leave you within a goal of equalising, you stretch your play, go 4-4-2 with wider players.
“But when you do that you open yourselves up to a very good side breaking and scoring again.”
Pep Guardiola’s side showed flashes of brilliance in South London and maintained their title challenge with a dominant performance.
And Hodgson insists the Eagles – who beat City in December – did they very best to prepare for a tough game.
“It’s not only our task to prepare for a tough game, but the task of a few teams who come up against Manchester City. You do your very best to prepare players for that.
“You need to get the balance right and make sure you don’t get ripped apart tactically. We did better in the second half. The bottom line is, if they don’t score their goals in the way they did then they would have found another way to score them.
“They gave us respect with a very strong team. I can only congratulate them on the victory and say what we all know, they are a very good team and will take some beating in any game they play.”