Eagles relegate former boss Roy Hodgson as Zaha seals win from the spot


This was Roy Hodgson’s second Palace visit in just four days.

But unlike Wednesday’s visit to Buckingham Palace to collect his CBE for football services, this time there was no fanfare, royal red carpet or smiles for the cameras.


Wilfred Zaha converts by chancecredit: Alamy
Roy Hodgson received a warm welcome from Palace loyalists


Roy Hodgson received a warm welcome from Palace loyalistscredit: Reuters

Just terrifying confirmation that a 46-year globe-trotting career – which includes 17 clubs in six countries and the privilege of managing England – will end with the humiliation of relegation to the Premier League.

For a man who loves to read great works of literature, this finale was a brutal twist in the chapter.

Yes, the retired Hodgson received a warm welcome back to Crystal Palace since he left 12 months ago.

A chance to say a fitting farewell to Palace fans and thank them for retaining them for four seasons – the ground had low capacity for their last match in charge last year due to COVID restrictions

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But that would be no consolation to this proud son of Croydon as the defeat decimated Watford to the second love demotion in three seasons.

The decision to come out of retirement in January and take one last job at the chaotic Hornets has backfired spectacularly.

Watford’s fate was inevitable once Wilfried Zaha scored a penalty in the first half and the captain went down with his sinking ship this afternoon.

The 74-year-old can say he has no regrets playing Vicarage Road, but having presided over 11 losses in 15 matches, it will go down as his worst managerial destination.

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Hodgson was warmly received by Selhurst Park loyalists as he set out for the last opportunity in the spring sunshine of South London.

The sunglasses—which he recently wore after a bad bout of ringworm—were gone and he was able to say goodbye to his boyhood club.

Although some have not always liked his style of football, the bond in these parts is strong and genuine and he was signing autographs with home fans an hour before kick-off.

Watford have kept only three clean sheets from 19 matches in 2022 and that is the problem.

They always think there is a potential error in them and hence it was proved at the half hour mark.

A back-post header from Michael Ollis struck the left arm of jumper Hasan Kamara, who had turned his back, and a penalty was immediately awarded.

As much as the Watford defender protested animatedly and complained of being pushed – an argument he escalated with the referee at half-time – VAR was none of it.

Zaha, who is out of contract next summer, is in an upbeat mood these days and has comfortably sent off a penalty for his 14th goal of the season.

For Palace, who have been thriving under boss Patrick Vieira, the rare sighting of Zaha, Eberechi Eze and Olis together on the pitch will fuel the appetite for the next term.

This is an attacking unit that will rival several front threes in the Premier League and provided they all stay put, the Holmesdale Fanatics should be excited about their future plans.

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster went the wrong way for that spot-kick but redeemed himself somewhat with two brilliant one-handed saves in the first half.

First he denied a Mark Guehy header and then he tipped over a thunderbolt shot from close range from Ollis – both times Foster displayed reflexes that belittled his 39-year-old.

In the second half the match required a tough effort in the second half or the most inspiring of Hodgson team talks to get Watford back.

Nothing was better than a victory in dire circumstances and it never materialised.

Kamara’s dismissal for a second caution – okay, so when he clumsily brought Zaha down on the touchline on 69 minutes – didn’t help the cause.

Frankly, Watford showed no urgency, no momentum, no real get-at-the-throat effort—they went down with a bang, not a bang.

In fact, Palace should have won it more, but Odsonne Edouard could not believe his shot went through Foster’s legs and then bounced off the inside of the post before being cleared for safety.

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And substitute Jean-Philippe Matteta thought he had scored late, but Foster produced another age-defying save.

There are now three more matches left for Watford but sadly for Hodgson – who has overseen more than 1,200 matches from the dugout – his well-travelled career is coming to an end with this failure.

Hornets brought back to championship


Hornets brought back to championshipcredit: Reuters

Watch how the match unfolded in our live blog…


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