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Hodgson gives backing to Guaita after howler

The keeper’s own goal proved the difference against Sheffield United.

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Vicente Guaita’s error contributed towards Crystal Palace losing at home to Sheffield United (Nigel French/PA)

Vicente Guaita’s error contributed towards Crystal Palace losing at home to Sheffield United (Nigel French/PA)

Vicente Guaita’s error contributed towards Crystal Palace losing at home to Sheffield United (Nigel French/PA)

Boss Roy Hodgson leapt to the defence of Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita after his own goal handed Sheffield United all three points at Selhurst Park.

The Spanish stopper dropped Oliver Norwood’s corner over his goal line in the 58th minute despite being under little pressure and it proved the only effort of the game.

Hodgson was disappointed with the result but praised the 33-year-old, who has been one of the Eagles’ best players this season on his way to six clean sheets in the Premier League.

“It was a very difficult day for goalkeepers. It was a very windy day and not an easy game to play in that respect,” he said.

“You don’t have to be a football expert to know it was a goalkeeping error. He was the first one when he came in after the game to put his hands up and apologise for it.

“But from our point of view – mine, the coaching staff and the players – it was you don’t apologise to anyone because it is thanks to you we are where we are.

“We have 30 points from 25 games and without you and the work you have done, we would have a damn sight less.

“In actual fact he owes us nothing. We owe him an enormous debt and we are saddened people will look at this not knowing how good he is, how much he has done and blame him, but no-one at the football club will attach any blame to him.

“These things do happen and I am sad it has happened to him and sad it has cost us a point in the game, but the bottom line is Vicente Guaita, we are in his debt.”

Referee Andrew Madley was at the centre of a number of decisions during the match, with Joel Ward initially shown a red card in the second half before VAR told the official to look at the pitch-side monitor.

After taking a second look, the sending off was downgraded to a yellow, but it did little to appease the Palace supporters who wanted Blades full-back George Baldock dismissed in the first half.

The right-back received a caution early on for a foul on Wilfried Zaha and looked set to get another when he brought down the Ivory Coast winger in the 34th minute.

Madley kept his cards in his pocket this time and Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder felt both decisions were correct in the end.

“We are not a malicious side, but we are competitive and this is a competitive sport,” the Blades boss insisted.

“Just as I didn’t think Joel Ward’s was a red, I didn’t think George’s was a second yellow.”

The victory for Sheffield United continued their excellent away record and especially in the capital after taking points from trips to Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham and Arsenal.

After promotion last season, they sit 12 points above the relegation zone with only 13 games left and just five off Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League position.

Wilder added: “It was a tough afternoon, the conditions weren’t great for both sides.

“Our performance first half wasn’t the best, but we have an honesty about our play and a structure and desire to dig in when we have to and we certainly had to do that.”

PA