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Hodgson hails Palace after derby fightback

Roy Hodgson praised his Crystal Palace players’ response in falling behind to a goal that should not have stood by recovering to draw 2-2 at home to Arsenal.

Luka Milivojevic’s second penalty – which came after he saw Jordan Pickford save one in last week’s defeat at Everton when the score remained 0-0 – secured a valuable point and denied Arsenal a 12th successive victory.

He had earlier given them the lead before watching Granit Xhaka’s fine free-kick, and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range finish following Alexandre Lacazette’s clear handball, threaten to undermine what had been a significantly improved performance.

The point came at a good time ahead of next month’s Premier League fixtures against Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, but it could have been more but for Lacazette’s intervention.

Hodgson said; “It wasn’t exactly a touch of the hand, but one which helped the ball to the player who scored.

“It was tremendous that the players came back from that. It’s not easy having led at the interval and then found ourselves trailing 2-1. To find ourselves behind, but come back to force an equaliser; the players deserve a lot of praise.

“Our offensive players were more noticeable than Arsenal’s, and that’s great credit to my team.

“Two good pieces of play led to Arsenal being forced to commit a foul in the penalty area. For the two goals, the amount of possession we had in the final third, two goals is fairly scant reward.”

The 71-year-old was also asked about his captain Milivojevic, who demonstrated the character to score two penalties under pressure having been disappointed last week, and he said: “To step up again in two important situations was great credit to Luka.

“It’s not just about technique in those situations. It’s a question of mental strength. You need players with that mental strength to step up.”

Unai Emery’s Arsenal struggled for the same fluidity that has been such a highlight since his appointment as manager.

© John Walton/PA Wire

Milivojevic’s 83rd-minute goal also ended their pursuit of a club record for successive victories, which remains at 14, and despite previously dismissing talk of hoping to make history, he conceded his disappointment that they could no longer do so.

“A little bit (disappointed),” the 46-year-old said. “But we are in a good position to achieve our objectives.

“The team can improve. This draw is not bad. We want to win each match, but here is not easy for every team. Our challenge is every match to continue to learn our process, and improve.”

Hector Bellerin had to be replaced by Stephan Lichtsteiner, but Emery said he hoped he had no more than a “muscular complaint”, and when asked about Mesut Ozil’s unhappiness at also being substituted, said: “It’s normal. Not happy because the result was not good at the end. But it’s normal.

“I like the players showing us character when we are not playing well. When I chose him, it was 2-1 to us but usually every player wants to continue playing.”

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