By Richard Cawley
Roy Hodgson refused to criticise any of his Crystal Palace side after injury-time heartbreak against Manchester United.
The Eagles relinquished a 2-0 lead as they conceded three times in the second half at Selhurst Park. Nemanja Matic’s superb strike in the first minute of stoppage time sent them to defeat – the result ensuring they did not climb out of the Premier League drop-zone.
Palace manager Hodgson – asked for his overriding emotion afterwards – replied: “Sadness. I saw a group of players give their all for the club and team-mates. To come away with nothing for the second time in a row, as we did against Tottenham, I feel very sad for them.
“I’m proud of the performance. I can’t criticise any player or any person for the effort and work-rate put in.
“Lukaku scores a great equaliser when the ball falls kindly and Matic scores a worldy from 25 or 30 metres. If it had gone over or hit the crossbar and been cleared then we’d be saying well done boys, what a good performance and point.
“We were going to be asked some questions defensively with Rashford, Lukaku, Mata, Lingard and Sanchez on the field and flying forward. We answered them pretty well and were not lacking opportunities ourselves at 2-2 – Benteke had a very good header saved by De Gea. But it wasn’t to be.
“We were in the relegation zone after seven games and everyone thought we were relegated. At the moment we are in the relegation zone but aren’t relegated, that’s a positive. We were eight points adrift of any sort of safety and now we are one point adrift with lots of games to go.
“Whether you are in the relegation zone or just outside it doesn’t differ that much – you have got to get the points to the necessary level to keep you in the league.
“If we can get some of the players with quality and experience that are currently in the treatment room back on the field it will certainly help the other senior players. The 11 we have playing is the 11 we have.”