Roy Hodgson hails ‘guts, fight and determination’ of his players after crucial win at Brighton lifts them 10 points above drop zone – but Crystal Palace boss warns they must build on derby victory or ‘we will be plunging down that snake’
- Brighton dominated proceedings but were beaten by injury-time strike
- Benteke sealed a classic smash and grab by thumping home a dramatic volley
- Palace move up to 13th with Brighton in 16th, four points above the drop zone
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson was delighted to see his side move 10 points above the drop zone after a dramatic victory at fellow strugglers Brighton.
Substitute Christian Benteke sealed a classic smash and grab by thumping home a dramatic late volley in a 2-1 victory on Monday night.
Hodgson hailed his player’s ‘gutsy performance’ but warned they must build on derby victory or ‘we will be plunging down that snake’.
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson celebrates with Christian Benteke after victory at Brighton
Told BT Sport: It is always good to get into the 30s (point), nowadays we stick to 38 points is enough but often it is less than that.
It’s a sigh of relief, but that next game if we don’t win we will be plunging down that snake. In this league, you can lose a lot of games. It can happen because the league is so good.
Brighton are below us but an equally as good a team as we are, everyone can see that. When you play them you need to produce the gutsy performance we did. Proud of the team. I’ll be even happier when I have 38 points on the board.
‘Very pleased, we played against a technical team. We knew we had to work hard defensively, midfield and back unit to limit them in our penalty area. Didn’t keep ball as well as we’d have liked. When you have bad results it does effect confidence.
Jean-Philippe Mateta opened his Crystal Palace account in some style against the run of play
‘Second half, they put a lot of forward on, the back four did unbelievably well. In the end we get the added bonus of a goal in the last minute, certainly very pleased with the guts, fight and determination.
‘As a result, we come back with the ultimate points total.’
Brighton dominated proceedings at the Amex Stadium and levelled through Joel Veltman after the Eagles led at half-time courtesy of a superb, back-heeled finished from French forward Jean-Philippe Mateta.
Benteke lashed in Andros Townsend’s cross in the fifth minute of added time to return Palace to winning ways following successive defeats which had led to growing supporter unrest.
The January signing produced an instinctive flick to give the visitors a first-half lead
Yet Eagles manager Hodgson will be more than satisfied with a result which moves his side 10 points above the relegation zone
He told BBC Sport: ‘It’s always great to score in the last minute, especially when we had to soak up a lot of pressure.
‘The defending was very good, they threw their bodies on the line. We worked hard to make certain they didn’t get many sights at goal. We didn’t create as many chances we’d like. The two we created from crosses were goals.
‘It was important tonight because we haven’t been pleased with our defending recently. We thought we were falling short of our high standards.’
Benteke slammed home in the 95th minute for the ultimate smash-and-grab triumph
The victory was also a first this season in the absence of injured talisman Wilfried Zaha.
Following defeats to Leeds and Burnley, Hodgson continued: ‘I don’t feel the need to be vindicated.
‘I don’t like to use that word because the use of the word vindication would suggest that something has been going awfully wrong in what we have been trying to do for the whole of the season. I don’t think vindication is the right word.’
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