Roy Hodgson was “incensed” by Anthony Knockaert’s challenge on Luka Milivojevic — but refused to blame Crystal Palace’s 2-1 Premier League defeat by rivals Brighton on the fact he was not sent off.
Knockaert escaped with only a yellow card when he fouled Milivojevic in the opening minute at Selhurst Park, and he remained on the pitch to score a superb winning goal that took his side level on 33 points with Palace, and more crucially closer to safety.
Brighton have recorded successive league victories after a winless start to 2019, therefore easing what had been the growing threat of relegation.
Glenn Murray had earlier produced a similarly fine finish to give them the visitors the lead, before Milivojevic’s second-half penalty, but a wider concern for Hodgson will be the extent to which his team under performed.
“We were incensed by the challenge; it looked like a very dangerous one,” said the Palace manager, 71.
“I was pleased to see Milivojevic get to his feet again. My first thought was to check the bench to get someone warmed up because I envisaged him not being able to carry on.
“(But) we had 95, 96 minutes to try to win the game and were not able to do so. There was a lot of football left to be played.
“It was a fantastic goal they scored to win the game. We can consider ourselves a little unlucky with the first one they scored because the ball got caught in the wind.
“It set up quite well off James Tomkins and into a perfect position for Glenn Murray to put them one up.
“After getting back in the game at 1-1 and looking like we might capitalise on the possession against a well-drilled and compact defence, we concede from 25 yards; right in the joint of post and bar.
“It is a very disappointing day. It was a poor performance in that we were not able to do enough with the amount of possession we had.”
That Brighton have rediscovered the momentum required to preserve their Premier League status eases the pressure that had been building on their manager Chris Hughton.
He said: “The Anthony Knockaert foul, I was very close to it and what you had was two players who went equally for the ball. My first impression was neither was going to get booked.
“I felt the right decision was a yellow card.
“Yes, I was going to take him off before the goal and it didn’t change my mind.
“At 1-1 if you had offered me a draw, I would have taken it. We’re the away team. They’ve got a penalty so early in the second half, they’re in the ascendancy.
“The team showed great character after that. I don’t know if ‘bonus’ is the right word but three points here, particularly with how the second half panned out, is a big win for us.”