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Roy Hodgson declares Crystal Palace win over Leicester best performance he has seen as Eagles boss

The 75-year-old got his second spell as Eagles boss off to a winning start in dramatic fashion

01 April 2023

oy Hodgson believes Crystal Palace’s last-gasp win over Leicester was the best performance they have produced under his management.

Late substitute Jean-Philippe Mateta scored with the final kick of the game to turn the match on its head, after an unfortunate Daniel Iversen own goal had cancelled out Ricardo Pereira’s opener.

It secured Palace a fully-merited first victory of 2023 in the opening game of Hodgson’s second spell in charge of the Eagles. The 75-year-old previously managed the side between 2017 and 2021 and he declared the 2-1 victory over Leicester the best display he has ever overseen as Palace boss.

“I must honestly say that in the four years that I was lucky enough to work here before, I don’t think I ever saw that quality of performance that the team gave in the first half,” Hodgson reflected.

“It really was a very dominant first-half performance, and a performance that really encompassed all the things we’ve been trying to put into people’s heads: ‘You’re actually very good players. If you take shots on, we think with your talent you’ve got enough to score goals.’

“All the things we asked for, they certainly did. Today we only got two [goals], but quite frankly with 31 shots and nine of them on target, we could have easily got a few more.”

Palace’s talisman, Wilfried Zaha, hobbled off injured just before the break with a groin strain that the club will be hoping isn’t serious.

While the Ivorian is likely to leave the club in the summer at the end of his contract, Palace need him fit and firing as they battle eight other sides for Premier League survival.

“The injury to Zaha was a massive blow,” Hodgson conceded. “There’s no update. All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope for the very best. It’s a muscle strain, and muscle strains can take anything from days to weeks and months. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Hodgson had made Zaha captain and explained his decision, saying: “He’s become a better player since I left. When I was here, we really did rely upon him very heavily. To create and score goals, Wilf was the man we all turned to. That’s been eased by good recruitment.

“To make him captain was an easy choice. [Joel] Ward and Luka [Milivojevic], I am very happy with those two. Marc Guehi, I admire him very much and I could certainly see him being the future captain, maybe even of England. That’s how good that boy is.

“I had to make a choice, so I just went for, in my opinion, our best player.”

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