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Crystal Palace: Jean-Philippe Mateta finally repays Roy Hodgson promise for vital boost in relegation battle

Better late than never as the Eagles striker finally lives up to his goal pledge at Selhurst Park

03 April 2023

t took Roy Hodgson to come out of retirement but, in the end, Jean-Philippe Mateta proved his worth to the Crystal Palace manager.

Mateta told Hodgson he was a goalscorer when the Frenchman moved to Selhurst Park from Mainz in 2021. While he failed to show it during the former England coach’s first stint in charge, he certainly did on Saturday when he hit a 94th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory over Leicester.

After replacing Odsonne Edouard late on, Mateta latched onto Jordan Ayew’s pass in the 94th minute, swivelled, and scored coolly to give Palace their first victory of 2023.

“When we signed him, I remember the first conversation I had with him,” recalled Hodgson. “He said: ‘I’m a goalscorer — you can trust me to get you goals.’ But to be honest, he didn’t. As a result, we weren’t particularly good to him. We didn’t give him that many starts.

“Coming back now, the relationship has been very good. It might not have been, but in fact he’s done everything in his power to show I can trust him.

“I said to him in the tunnel: ‘You told me you score goals and you weren’t lying.’ He took his goal very well. I wasn’t quite aware on the touchline what a wonderful piece of skill he showed, bringing the ball under control, turning in one movement, and finishing with the other foot. That’s worthy of one of the goals of the week. I hope he’ll be able to give some of those performances again.”

Late show: Jean-Philippe Mateta’s last-gasp goal secured Crystal Palace a first win of 2023


Mateta has managed just two goals this season but Hodgson hopes the 6ft 4in striker can help keep Palace up. His strong hold-up play means he occupies defenders, creating space for team-mates to exploit. Of his five touches against Leicester, one was to tee himself up and another proved the winning strike. It was the sort of efficiency he promised Hodgson 27 months ago. Better late than never.

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