‘Too easy’ – Patrick Vieira critical of Crystal Palace’s first-half display at The Den

Patrick Vieira believes that Crystal Palace made it “too easy” for Gary Rowett’s Millwall in the first half of the FA Cup third round clash.

Palace conceded the opener in the 18th minute when Benik Afobe capitalised on a Jack Butland mistake in front of goal.

The Eagles only managed to record one shot on target in the first half but scored the equaliser one minute after the restart when Michael Olise cut inside and placed a shot past George Long.

Olise set up Jean-Philippe Mateta in the 58th minute. Palace saw out the victory to progress past the third round for the first time since the 2018-19 season.

“We needed to play in possession with more conviction – we needed to play to go forward, to score goals, and to penetrate inside their 18-yard box,” said Vieira. “In the first half, we had the ball, we had possession, but we made it too easy for them.

“In the second half, we put them in a situation where they needed to defend one-on-one, and we managed to hurt them.

“It was the mindset that we needed to change, and we did it in the second half.”

Millwall v Crystal Palace Emirates FA Cup 3rd Round, The Den, 08 January 2022

Eberechi Eze made his first start for the club since returning from an Achilles injury that he suffered in May of last year.

Speaking of the Greenwich-born Eze, who was replaced by Christian Benteke in the 64th minute, Vieira said: “When you get the ball at his feet, he is a really creative player, but you can see that he is still lacking a little bit of sharpness.

“That will come with time. Similar to Michael, we are in a period where we are missing some players up front, and they will have more time to play.

“I expect him to progress game after game. I was really pleased with his performance. Like the team, he was more comfortable in the second half than he was in the first half.”




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