BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson admits he was incensed by Anthony Knockaert’s tackle on Luka Milivojevic inside the first 20 seconds of the Eagles’ 2-1 defeat to rivals Brighton.
The Frenchman went over the top of the ball and caught the Serb in the thigh with his studs, but referee Craig Pawson only produced a yellow card.
Hodgson said: “Obviously there was the foul in the opening minute, I don’t think it was a malicious foul. We were incensed by the challenge, it looked like a very dangerous one. I was pleased to see Milivojevic get to his feet again. My first thought was to check the bench to get someone warmed up because I envisaged him not being able to carry on.
“It was a winger’s tackle, wasn’t it? It was early in a derby game, he tried to show his commitment. It was over the ball, of course, it was a bad foul. The referee has given him the benefit of the doubt on that one.”
Knockaert went on to score the winner at Selhurst Park, a sensational 25-yard strike which curled into Vicente Guaita’s top corner via the post.
Hodgson refused to claim there was any malicious intent from the Seagulls winger to hurt Milivojevic.
And asked if he felt Pawson gave Knockaert the benefit of the doubt based on the time of the game, the 71-year-old said: “You’ll have to ask the referee. I’m not terribly happy to be discussing an incident which happened inside the first 45 seconds because there was a lot of football left to be played.
“VAR will be meat and drink for you guys [the media] because that is all that will ever be discussed, the things that actually happen in the football won’t be talked about. It [post-match discussion] shouldn’t be about a refereeing decision, right or wrong.
“To say it was a malicious tackle you would have to know that there was intent to hurt in the player’s mind. I don’t know if it was a malicious tackle at all but it was over the top of the ball, that was the thing that we were incensed about. An over the top of the ball challenge which, for as long as I’ve been involved in football, has been one of those things that you get incensed about. If it happens against your team you deplore.”