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'Zaha's reputation is a dangerous thing' - Hodgson, Milivojevic react to Crystal Palace's penalty claim

02:08 GMT+4 22/04/2018
Wilfried Zaha
The Eagles shared the spoils with their hosts, but felt they should have left Vicarage Road with a favourable penalty decision
Wilfried Zaha's unawarded penalty was perhaps the biggest talking point as Crystal Palace held Watford to a 0-0 stalemate in Saturday's English Premier League encounter; a decision coach Roy Hodgson and teammate Luka Milivojevic thought should have gone their way.

Asides Palace hitting the woodwork twice through Milivojevic and James Tomkins, Hodgson also felt they were 'unlucky' after referee Chris Kavanagh opted to book Zaha for diving rather than awarding a spot-kick after Adrian Mariappa had upended the winger in the area during the second half.

“I try hard not to be the person who bellyaches saying we should have had this or that, but having seen it again it was a pretty clear penalty decision and we consider ourselves unlucky there," Hodgson said after the game.

“I’m pretty sure that a lot of the people that see it on TV tonight and discuss it are more likely to agree with me than otherwise.”

Prior to Saturday's encounter, Zaha's history of fallouts with the Hornets faithful which includes another diving incident in a 1-1 draw in December 2016 that saw the player booked, was brought to the fore.

And Hodgson believes a perceived reputation of the Cote d'Ivoire international as a diver does not put him in the good books of the officials.

“Reputation is a dangerous thing – who gives them that reputation? He’s suffered badly because other managers come in and they give you [journalists] their version of the story and brand him as someone who dives for penalties, and the more it is written and spoken about, the more the legend is circulated," he continued.

“In my long period as a coach, I think I have a reputation as a relatively fair-minded person, and I would point out that he is anything other than a cheat or a diver. He is sometimes far too desperate to stay on his feet because he wants to score a goal himself, and because he moves at such speed there will be times, like in the first half, where he will be unbalanced and the referee saw that and didn’t give the penalty, and in my opinion that wasn’t one.

“I think it’s very unjust the treatment he gets. We are very happy to have him and as much as I wasn’t enamoured by his performance in the first half, I was in the second because he played very well.”

Although less than impressed with the decision, Crystal Palace first choice spot-kick taker Milivojevic respects Kavanagh's call.

“From my point of view that was a penalty but the referee is the main guy and he is responsible for decisions and he decided not to give it and we have to respect that.”

Zaha has been Palace's most influential player this season with his seven goals and overall contributions in 26 top-flight games helping them overcome several slumps in the ongoing campaign. Saturday's draw saw them move to 15th in the log with six points away from the relegation zone.