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Men’s football Roy Hodgson: What’s happened to the game I love?

by Gene Sylvester

CRYSTAL PALACE boss Roy Hodgson no longer recognises the game he fell in love with after a controversial handball decision condemned his side to defeat against Everton.

With the score at 1-1, Angel Gomes’ cross-field pass to Lucas Digne was nodded down by the Frenchman straight onto Joel Ward’s hand, with the Palace defender having zero to no chance of moving his hand out of the way. 

After consulting the pitch side monitor, referee Kevin Friend ruled that this incident was worthy of a penalty and Richarlison made no mistake in dispatching his 39th minute penalty past Vicente Guaita and ultimately claim the three points for his team.

Hodgson pulled no punches with his comments after the match, especially after his side were denied a penalty when the ball hit Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s arm and VAR ruled it was not a penalty.

“I am disillusioned by what the game that I knew and loved looks like now,” stated the Eagles boss.

“I just don’t understand how we’ve allowed it [the handball] to happen. The Premier League, the referee, the coaches, the managers, the players, I don’t know how we’ve allowed this type of situation, which we have at virtually every match at the moment, to occur because the rules of football are important.

“Now we have to take on board rules which are being suggested, but are they the right ones to judge handball? For me, they aren’t so I think the whole thing is a nonsense.

“I criticised the decision last week [when Crystal Palace won a similar penalty against Manchester United] and I don’t think this was a penalty. The game I watched on TV before this game started when Neal Maupay was judged to have handled the ball [also against Manchester United], I didn’t think that was a penalty.

“I think the rule is a nonsense. I think it’s a nonsense when we get one, I think it’s a nonsense when we get one against us and I think it’s only serving the purpose… for polemics, discussions and dramatic moments.”

Hodgson’s men fell behind early in the first-half when Seamus Coleman squared to Calvert-Lewin, who finished emphatically from eight yards out.

Cheikhou Kouyate drew Palace level on 25 minutes, the Senegalese midfielder rising highest at the back post to meet an Andros Townsend corner.

Richarlison’s penalty ended up being the winning goal and Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was understandably in a more upbeat mood following his side’s hard-fought victory. 

“Palace didn’t let us play the way we wanted to play, but I am really pleased the way we have started the season,” said Ancelotti. 

The victory saw Everton make their best start to a league campaign since the 1993-94 season, a start which sees them as the unexpected Merseyside team sitting top of the table for 24 hours at least.

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