Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson on Leeds United's VAR woe, Victor Orta's protest, Eberechi Eze's stunner and the most important statistic

Crystal Palace's previous VAR woes have left Roy Hodgson with little capacity for sympathy when it comes to offside calls like the one Leeds United suffered from today.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 7th November 2020, 6:29 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th November 2020, 6:32 pm
WRONG MAN - Crystal Palace Roy Hodgson finds sympathy hard to muster when it comes to opposition VAR woes, having experienced plenty of his own before Leeds United clash. Pic: Getty
WRONG MAN - Crystal Palace Roy Hodgson finds sympathy hard to muster when it comes to opposition VAR woes, having experienced plenty of his own before Leeds United clash. Pic: Getty

The Whites were beaten 4-1 for the second game in a row but the Selhurst Park clash might have been a different affair had Patrick Bamford's first half equaliser stood. It was given by the match officials and then checked by VAR, before being overturned because the shoulder of the arm he was pointing with was offside.

The rules say that the shirtsleeve of a player being beyond the last defender is enough for a goal to be disallowed and Bamford spoke out about the law after the game.

Hodgson, however, offered little solace to Bamford and his team-mates.

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"Every week there are so many decisions everyone wants to contest, why should this weekend be any different," he said.

"You're speaking to the wrong man if you want sympathy for unbelievably tight calls or calls that had no right to be made as we have suffered so badly in the last two or three games with those kind of goals and had a VAR decision that cost us our captain for three games.

"I think VAR was something talked about for a long, long time and I think all it's done is replaced the trial by television, it's now trial by referee's television as opposed to trial by pundit's television. Every goal has been analysed in great detail and quite often officials have been accused of getting it wrong. We've replaced that with a group of referees and they do the same thing."

Hodgson's men were already a goal ahead through Scott Dann by the time Bamford's 'equaliser' was chalked off and then Eberechi Eze scored his first Crystal Palace goal with a superb free-kick.

The former England boss, asked if the strike was so good it had rendered the wall Leeds mustered futile, was delighted with not only that effort but Eze's overall performance.

"I think there'll always be a wall, it gives a goalkeeper a little more satisfaction that something might help him keep it out but that was arguably one of the most perfect free-kicks executed and a goalkeeper couldn't be expected to stop that," he said.

"He's looked at home since he's arrived, his training sessions constantly impressive. We think he's the right person to have bought. He had to be a bit patient, Andros Townsend and Schlupp are very good players in those positions too. It was the right time to unleash him today and he certainly lived up to the expectations I have of him."

The free-kick was won while Mateusz Klich was down injured, leading to protests from Whites director of football Victor Orta in the stand. He pointed out to Hodgson and his staff that Leeds had earlier put the ball out of play when Andros Townsend had gone down with a problem, suggesting the Eagles should have followed suit. Hodgson felt Palace were not to blame on that occasion.

"We were quite prepared to put the ball out but no sooner did the player go down, it bounced to one of our players and he was fouled and the referee gave a free-kick," he said.

"If you're saying there was a lot of talk behind me it certainly doesn't interest me and I didn't hear it, my focus on the game is so intense."

Palace's third goal came from a wicked deflection off Helder Costa that wrong-footed Illan Meslier in the Leeds goal. Hodgson categorised it as a goalkeeping mistake but said Costa's misfortune left the young Frenchman with little hope of saving Patrick van Aanholt's cross.

"I think you see it quite often. It was unfortunate for the goalkeeper, it's an error and he'll hold his hands up, but there wasn't much chance of Patrick feeding the ball into that area with the touch from the defender. The goalkeeper had speculated it would go across the six yard box which would have been a very dangerous ball."

Leeds struggled to find a way through a solid Palace backline after that and although they dominated possession, again, found themselves further behind when Jordan Ayew capitalised on on sloppy play from the visitors to make it 4-1.

Hodgson came into his press conference expecting to be met with statistics that told a different story to the one suggested by the lopsided scoreline, but insisted that was all that mattered.

"I still maintain unfortunately that the most important thing in football is to score one more than the opposition," he said.