In many ways, this result was a microcosm of Roy Hodgson’s career. In his 100th match as the Crystal Palace manager, the 72-year-old had seen his side run ragged by an impressive Brighton side led by Graham Potter and staring down the barrel of a third successive defeat to their bitter rivals after Neal Maupay’s seventh Premier League goal of the season.
Yet Hodgson has not been in this game for more than 40 years without learning a thing or two and in the end it was the visitors who were hanging on for the draw after Wilfried Zaha’s brilliant equaliser ensured Palace remain three points clear of their not-so-near neighbours.
In the buildup, Potter had described Hodgson as a “legend” in Sweden after cutting his managerial teeth in Scandinavia in the late 1970s and the similarities between the two men in the dugout provided a fascinating side-plot to this always spicy encounter.
Both managers had shared a handshake and a joke as they emerged from the tunnel on a drizzly night in south London, with Potter – who spent eight years in charge of Östersund before returning home last year with Swansea – experiencing his first taste of an unusual enmity that dates back to the personal rivalry between former Tottenham teammates Alan Mullery and Terry Venables in the late 1970s. The heavy police presence on the streets outside Selhurst Park before the match was an indication that the rivalry remains as deep-seated as ever.
Hodgson handed a first league start since August to Christian Benteke, while Jaïro Riedewald was recalled to play at left-back in the absence of both Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp – the first time the Dutchman has started a league match since February 2018. Brighton took the spoils in this fixture last season thanks to Anthony Knockaert’s late goal but with him and former manager Chris Hughton now a distant memory on the south coast, this is a different side under Potter.
The visitors dominated possession from kick-off, with Palace content to sit back and attempt to hit them on the break. Aaron Mooy was the closest to breaking the deadlock inside the opening six minutes when his shot went just wide of Vicente Guaita’s post, before Riedewald was lucky to escape when he appeared to bring down Montoya inside the area. Somewhat mysteriously, the VAR official Martin Atkinson decided that the Palace defender had not made contact with his opponent, with Guaita doing well to stop Lewis Dunk’s header from the resulting corner.
Benteke’s only real contribution of the half was to pick up a booking after catching Dunk with his arm as they went up for a header. Pretty it was not from the home side.