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Hodgson ‘disillusioned’ as Elliott turns the tide

Palace boss fumes at VAR call after late blow

By Riath Al-Samarrai AT SELHURST PARK

FOR so long, Roy Hodgson was spoiling those Crystal Palace fans. Spoiling them rotten. And then their day was simply spoilt by a side who have developed an excellent knack for saving lost causes.

That’s what this Liverpool side can do. They can dance with the best of them, but they fight and they scrap and they keep finding success even when performances fall short.

For make no mistake, this was a poor one. Or rather it was for the vast majority. They were slow, disjointed, lethargic and after 57 minutes they were behind, dropped on their backsides by Jean-Philippe Mateta’s penalty.

Having started the day with a chance to go top, Liverpool were

blowing it against a team with one win in eight and a manager who this week had criticised his own ‘spoilt’ supporters. Strange times and a strange game.

But how it turned. First, Jordan Ayew was sent off and it had the whiff of a harsh call, not to mention a momentum-changer, because almost immediately Mo Salah levelled with the 200th goal of his Liverpool career. A remarkable tally for a remarkable player and what seemed, at best, the highlight of an unremarkable display.

And yet there was more, because with the game just into stoppage time, Harvey Elliott scored a beauty. Jurgen Klopp erupted but perhaps there should have been little surprise — Liverpool have won 18 points from losing positions this season. Titles are won by quality but also with backbone and Liverpool are loaded with both.

Klopp would later speak of the ‘luck’ that went into their fourth win in five league games and that is fair enough — by his own acceptance his side were ‘horrendous’ in the 76 minutes prior to Salah’s strike. There was also some good fortune about Ayew’s dismissal.

But it was equally notable Klopp’s five second-half substitutions, especially the inclusion of Elliott, drastically reshaped this match. They brought urgency to a team who looked awfully fatigued by four games in 10 days. So credit to Liverpool for maintaining their trajectory, but a little sympathy is due to Palace and Hodgson. They were strong with 11 on the pitch, but naturally the question now is how much more time will be given to the 76-year-old, whose results are as concerning as his demeanour.

After this defeat he spoke of feeling ‘disillusioned’ and that is a worrying term from a manager in a fight. Naturally, some of his frustrations hinged on the use of VAR — it denied them a first-half penalty and granted one in the second, with both decisions correct — but he was deeply unimpressed with Ayew’s red card.

The first yellow had been for interrupting Virgil van Dijk’s attempts to take a quick free-kick and the second was for a soft foul on Elliott. Hodgson had a point, but the challenge on Elliott was daft by a man on a booking.

Whether such mitigations help Hodgson’s cause is doubtful, as he well knows. Ultimately it is only results that matter and, for now, they are beyond grim. So was this game for long stretches. It took 27 minutes for either side to land a shot on goal, when Alisson rerouted a shot from Jefferson Lerma against the post.

That was followed a moment later by the first penalty, awarded when Van Dijk clipped the ankles of Odsonne Edouard. It was rightly overturned by the VAR when it became clear Will Hughes had fouled Wataru Endo in the build-up. It was a let-off for Liverpool and Endo — he had already been caught in possession twice by then. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was hooked by Klopp at half-time.

Liverpool didn’t pick up and went behind shortly before the hour when Andy Madley was alerted by the VAR to a foul by Jarell Quansah on Mateta. That a minute and 45 seconds of play had elapsed before the foul was given was another poor look for the system.

When that situation was finally straightened out, Mateta buried the kick. Klopp looked utterly baffled, but the upturn was coming. First, that meant the red card for Ayew, the game’s most incisive player until that point, and then the equaliser when Salah scored with Liverpool’s first shot on goal.

If that was galling for Palace, the real kicker came in stoppage time, when Elliott cut inside from the right and uncorked a cracker from the edge of the area. Beauty in the ugliness of a big win.

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