Tuesday 11 December 2018

Palace kickstart survival bid

Crystal Palace 2 Stoke City 1

Stoke City's Kurt Zouma in action against Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters
Stoke City's Kurt Zouma in action against Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Roy Hodgson insisted Crystal Palace's dramatic defeat of Stoke should not be viewed as the "turning point" of their season - because that transformation had already begun.

Mamadou Sakho's stoppage-time finish was the clearest indication yet the manager will inspire them to survival. They remain bottom of the league but next week could climb out of the relegation zone; goals from Sakho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - after Xherdan Shaqiri had given Stoke the lead - showed their belief and provided significant momentum.

Victory also comes after a period in which new manager Hodgson felt his team had not been rewarded for their performances against Everton, Tottenham and West Ham. Palace face a kinder run of fixtures against Brighton, West Brom, Bournemouth, Watford, Leicester and Swansea in the coming weeks, but Hodgson said: "When you talk about turning things around, that happened five or six games ago.

"We've turned things around enormously and given some very good performances but we haven't always been rewarded with the victories."

Crystal Palace's Mamadou Sakho celebrates scoring his side's winning goa. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters
Crystal Palace's Mamadou Sakho celebrates scoring his side's winning goa. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

It is 10 seasons since Hodgson inspired Fulham to Premier League survival on the season's final day, and referencing that, he said: "I'd like us to climb out of our hole a bit quicker than Fulham were able to climb out of theirs."

Defeat was regardless harsh on 15th-placed Stoke, who could have regained the lead in the second half when their captain Ryan Shawcross turned Shaqiri's goal-bound cross wide.

Manager Mark Hughes said: "We've restricted the home side to very few clear-cut opportunities but individual errors allowed them to score two goals."

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