Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Pieters takes responsibility after Stoke loss

Stoke's Erik Pieters admits he was to blame for Crystal Palace's equaliser in his side's 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.

A fine individual effort from Xherdan Shaqiri made the visitors likely winners but they led for only three second-half minutes.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek then tapped in unchallenged at the back post when Andros Townsend's cross evaded Stoke's entire defence and after that lifted Palace, they eventually secured all three points via Mamadou Sakho's winning goal in stoppage time.

Pieters remains adamant he should have prevented Palace's first, and he told his club's official website: "We are a team and we win, draw and lose together, but the first goal was from my mistake and I am honest enough to hold my hands up and acknowledge that.

"We of course had enough chances to score more goals, and even though we wouldn't have been happy with the draw we could have accepted it: we simply can't accept this loss.

"The positive thing with the Premier League is that there is always another game around the corner, and thankfully we have two at home next week, the first being on Wednesday (against Liverpool).

"That is a huge game for us because we need to show our fans that we believe in ourselves, that we believe in the group and we believe in the manager.

"Allowing teams back into games is something the gaffer has spoken about, and the boys have mentioned as a group because on Monday we also let the lead slip twice."

Palace produced an improved defensive display after their manager surprisingly replaced Scott Dann and goalkeeper Julian Speroni with James Tomkins and Wayne Hennessey.

Tomkins was particularly impressive alongside Sakho in central defence, and he told Palace's official website: "I've been out for a little while. I've had to bide my time, train hard and show the manager what I can do.

"Physically it's just nice to get that 90 minutes in. I felt I played well and the defence did well, for the most part they didn't look like scoring.

"It took a sublime individual goal from Shaqiri to score but apart from that we never really looked like conceding. We could have crumbled after one-nil but we came back well."

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