Roy Hodgson hailed goalkeeper Julian Speroni despite his critical error in Crystal Palace’s 4-3 defeat by Liverpool.
The 39-year-old has legendary status at Palace, and Hodgson was forced to turn to his third-choice stopper after injuries to Vicente Guaita and Wayne Hennessey.
But with the scores level at 2-2 in an already intriguing contest, James Milner floated a seemingly harmless cross into the penalty area, only for Speroni to flap and palm it towards his own net. Mohamed Salah was on hand to help it over the line, and Liverpool went on to score again, before Max Meyer clawed a goal back.
But Hodgson instead sought to praise his longevity.
“There aren’t many better club servants than Julian Speroni at any football club in the world”, he said.
Palace could consider themselves a little unfortunate to be on the end of a defeat after a fiercely competitive performance against the Premier League leaders, and indeed went into the break ahead, which satisfied the boss.
But they conceded two early second-half goals, firstly a shot from distance deflected to fall kindly for Salah to poke past Speroni, before Roberto Firmino’s shot ricocheted off James Tomkins and into the back of the net.
“It was a good performance in both halves,” said Hodgson. ” In the first, our defensive organisation and discipline was excellent. We went in 1-0 thanks to a couple of good counter attacks – one of which presented a goal.
“To find yourself 2-1 down to a 45-metre deflected shot, and then a deflected shot in the penalty area – that can count as being a little bit unfortunate. But for the players to come back to 2-2 is very commendable in my view, and they deserve a lot of credit for it.
“But still at 3-2, the boys kept going, we were asking questions, creating chances. We go 4-2 down which was a cruel blow because the players who the were close to the action – and they don’t lie about these things – assure me it was a clear handball, which unfortunately no-one saw.
“But strangely enough, we came back even then and score a third to keep the margin of defeat to one goal. Had that goal [Mane’s, Liverpool’s fourth] been chalked off, there’s no guarantee we’d have scored the third – it might still have been a one goal margin.”
Meyer’s goal narrowed the margin of defeat, and provided a scoreline which more fairly reflected the visitors’ performance, although Hodgson felt his side deserved at least a point as he spoke of his pride in the way his side played, bemoaning a lack of fortune.
“We didn’t deserve to lose by two goals, I don’t think we deserved to lose by one goal. I’m extremely proud of the players performance. It was a really good team performance in every respect.
“We were playing against a team who don’t lose at home, and they have a wealth of talented players. For large periods of the game we held our own against them, more than held our own towards the end of the game.