Belfast Telegraph

'It feels like a defeat': Bilic rues late leveller

Slaven Bilic admits West Ham's draw at Crystal Palace felt like a defeat after Wilfried Zaha scored a 97th-minute equaliser at Selhurst Park.

The Hammers looked on course for a morale-boosting victory when Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew put them two goals in front but Luka Milivojevic's penalty and Zaha's late strike earned Palace a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Bilic admitted on Tuesday this was another "do-or-die" week for his future as manager and it remains to be seen whether this result, on the back of West Ham's Carabao Cup win over Tottenham in midweek, is enough to save his job.

"To concede like that is a killer. It feels like a defeat," Bilic said.

"It wasn't a defeat and it isn't a defeat at this point. It will be very important for us.

"They gave everything again, they ran, they defended, some of them played 90 minutes three days ago.

"I saw them struggling with energy but they wanted to defend, wanted to close them down. We were doing that. It's very, very frustrating."

Bilic's disappointment was particularly acute given his side could have prevented Zaha's equaliser.

Michail Antonio should have kept the ball in the corner but instead he tried to cross and conceded possession.

"Of course I spoke with him. He knows that now," Bilic said.

"He is the one who should keep the ball one against one on the line, forever, but he opted for a cross. Do I expect more? Of course but it's a team game. You take the good and the bad."

Palace, meanwhile, avoided defeat in the Premier League for only the second time this season and while Bilic shuffled off shaking his head, Roy Hodgson departed to raucous applause.

"It showed me this team has got more character than maybe sometimes it's been credited with," Hodgson said.

"I'm hoping that will give us a bit of confidence, a bit of security in the minds of the players who know even when things are going against us luck-wise, they can still come up and turn it around."

West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart made a string of brilliant saves before Zaha finally found the net and Hodgson believes a draw was the minimum Palace deserved.

"Joe Hart had an excellent game in goal and made sure the game went to the 96th minute with them still in the lead," Hodgson said.

"It was a great goal for Wilf but scant reward overall for the 90 minutes of football. There was no doubt we didn't deserve to be two goals down.

"With our utter domination, number of times in the penalty area, corner kicks, I think the fact we did get those two goals is nothing more than the team deserved."

One blight on Palace's afternoon was an injury to Patrick van Aanholt, who had to go off with a hamstring complaint after 11 minutes.

Mamadou Sakho was also a surprise omission from the squad with what Hodgson said was a calf strain.

However, the Palace manager insisted it was too early to rule either player out of next weekend's game against Tottenham.

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