BY SAM SMITH AND ANDREW McSTEEN
Roy Hodgson believes that his Crystal Palace side improved after going 2-0 down in a shocking start to their Premier League fixture at Wolves – and could have found a route back into the game had VAR been on their side.
Goals by Rayan Ait-Nouri and Daniel Podence put the hosts two ahead within 25 first-half minutes.
Palace had a penalty overturned when the technology ruled Patrick van Aanholt to be offside before he was fouled by Willy Boly. Wilfried Zaha was then denied a spot-kick following a collision with Ait-Nouri.
Following a pitchside review by referee Martin Atkinson, Luka Milivojevic was shown a red card for a forceful and high tackle on Joao Moutinho.
Hodgson said: “Wolves started very strongly, and we didn’t. As a result, we found ourselves 2-0 down.
“But we rallied very well and at the end of the first half we were playing much better football and certainly the game had evened out considerably.All through the second half, until the sending off, we were really asking a lot of questions and were working very, very hard to get ourselves back in the game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t profit from any mistakes from the Wolves defence. They were very solid and they certainly didn’t give us anything – and we weren’t exactly lucky with the VAR decisions either and in particular the one that bothers me the most of all is the sending off of Luka Milivojevic for a tackle which for me was a very fair tackle.”
Zaha was apparently aggrieved by the decision not to award him a second-half penalty, which was checked as per protocol by VAR but no clear and obvious error was deemed to have been made by Atkinson.
“I’ve seen the video of [the challenge on Zaha]. I mean, obviously, at the time it’s difficult to tell from the touchline if that would be a video situation that would definitely would have been one for VAR.
“But on that occasion the referee decided, or VAR decided, not to look into it but I think that was a potential penalty. The player does catch Wilf’s ankle. Wilf himself, of course, thinks it was a penalty.
“But the bottom line is this: when you go two goals to nil down in any game, especially at this level, it’s always going to be hard to get back in and all I can say is that I think the players today did their very level best to get back into it.
“I thought they worked very hard in the second half and played some very good football, but it was never going to be easy because we were relying on, perhaps, something like a penalty being given. Or a little bit of fortune, or maybe them making a sort of mistake that we made to give them their second goal.”
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