Hodgson relieved to see Vardy miss as Palace hold on for rare win without Zaha
It was Palace’s first league win without WIlfried Zaha since September 2016.
Roy Hodgson recognised Crystal Palace had been fortunate to see out their 1-0 victory over Leicester after watching Jamie Vardy hit a post when through on goal.
The striker, who was handed his England debut by Hodgson in 2015, was sent one-on-one with Palace’s Premier League debutant Vicente Guaita in the 79th minute but the goalkeeper tipped his goalbound shot on to a post before it bounced back into his hands.
That save, after Luka Milivojevic’s superb curling effort had given them the lead, essentially ended a run of 13 Premier League defeats in games Wilfried Zaha has been absent, dating back to September 2016, and also moved Palace five points clear of the bottom three.
Palace have struggled for goals this season having often played well but lacked the finishing touch, and after watching his team win when they could easily have been punished, Hodgson was happy to accept some good fortune.
He said: “We have been unlucky a few times this season. But for the first time, I can give credence to the old adage that it evens itself out.
“I was sure that Jamie was going to score, but Vicente made a good save, got a good hand to it, and it was fortunate to come back into his hands. I thought Guaita did very well with very little preparation.
“It was a spectacular goal to win it. I was rather hoping that we would get that break in the second half to see us score the second goal.
“But it is a result we have to be more than satisfied with. When your backs are against the wall and you get the result, you have to be satisfied.
“We have done more than enough to win games when (the suspended Zaha) has not played, but when that good performance was a defeat, the stark fact remains. It is nice to put that one to bed. But it has got people talking and writing more than it has got us thinking.
“It was a goal worthy of winning any game.”
Leicester had struggled for fluidity, perhaps owing to the four changes they made as the fit-again Vardy and Harry Maguire were recalled.
It was in the 39th minute when they fell behind to the goal from Palace’s captain that they could realistically do little about, but their manager Claude Puel was more critical of their performance in the opening half-hour.
“A draw would have been a fair result but we were unlucky in the second half, but I regret our first 30 minutes of the game,” said the Frenchman.
“We were poor without the right intensity and we didn’t manage the start of the game with the right intensity and fighting spirit to fight against this team in the duals and then play after the ball.
“We didn’t manage to keep the ball in their half and have the ability to create chances.
“We played a good second half and we deserved an equaliser.”