Belfast Telegraph

VAR God not on our side – Crystal Palace boss Hodgson

Palace midfielder Max Meyer had a 15th-minute strike chalked off on a review.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said the VAR gods were not on his side (Mark Kerton/PA)
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said the VAR gods were not on his side (Mark Kerton/PA)

By Ed Elliot, PA

Roy Hodgson claimed the “VAR God” favoured Southampton but had no complaints after Crystal Palace surrendered the lead to draw 1-1 at St Mary’s.

Palace midfielder Max Meyer had a 15th-minute strike chalked off on a review due to a marginal offside call against Wilfried Zaha in the build up.

The mid-table visitors later went ahead through a James Tomkins header but were forced to settle for a point after Martin Kelly’s calamitous backwards pass allowed in-form Saints striker Danny Ings to level 16 minutes from time.

Eagles boss Hodgson, who felt Meyer could have been awarded a second-half penalty after being floored by a clumsy challenge from James Ward-Prowse, was initially baffled when Stockley Park intervened to deny his team an early lead.

“When we scored the goal I couldn’t believe it was being checked, (I was thinking) ‘who’s it being checked for?’,” he said.

“But then I realised Wilf had been played in.

“It is small margins for these decisions and there is no point debating or lamenting the decision if it hasn’t gone your way, but certainly we could most definitely say we weren’t fortunate in that situation.

“We didn’t have the VAR God on our side, he was obviously on Southampton’s side.

“There are people still who believe perhaps it wasn’t even offside. And we were a little bit unlucky on the penalty as well, which we could easily have got.”

Palace, buoyed by a last-gasp Boxing Day win over London rivals West Ham, were once again without a host of injured first-team players.

Meyer’s disallowed strike was the only notable incident of a first half devoid of a shot on target at either end.

Tomkins, making his 350th career appearance, then put the away side in control by heading home Luka Milivojevic’s free-kick via the underside of the crossbar to claim his first goal since January.

The Eagles initially looked to have enough to see the game out before Kelly’s calamitous pass rolled behind team-mate Tomkins, allowing Ings to slot his eighth goal in nine games and 14th of a fruitful season.

Hodgson, who gave Ings his solitary England cap in 2015 and tried to sign him for Palace last year, slumped in his chair following the leveller but his side survived a nervy final 15 minutes to return home with a point.

“The last 15 minutes were a lot hairier than I would have liked them to be, and maybe needed to be had we not made that technical mistake,” said the 72-year-old.

“We can’t complain about anything, a point here against a Southampton team in form, with a lot of confidence, I’ve got to be more than satisfied.”

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl praised Ings’ goal-scoring instinct, as well as the “outrageous” effort of his team during the closing stages.

The result leaves Saints four points above the relegation zone on the back of vital victories at Aston Villa and Chelsea either side of Christmas.

“The strange thing is that he is always the person in that situation, that means he feels and smells where the opponent can get problems or troubles,” the Austrian said of Ings.

“I think it was the third time, or fourth time this season where he was after a pressing situation on the right spot and getting the ball and scores. It is not a coincidence and you have to be calm that you score in this moment.”

He added: “I’m not unhappy for the result. What my team did in the last 20 minutes physically and mentally was outrageous. It was a really fantastic fight we showed.

“We absolutely deserved to come back into the game.”

PA

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