Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has admitted that Etienne Capoue's early challenge on Wilfried Zaha affected the winger's performance during the clash with Watford at Vicarage Road.
Capoue raked his studs down the back of Zaha's leg in just the third minute of this afternoon's Premier League contest, but referee Anthony Taylor only produced a yellow card for the infringement.
Zaha picked up a much softer yellow card himself shortly afterwards, and Hodgson admitted that his side did not see the best of their star man until the closing stages, when he scored to make it 2-1 and give Palace some late hope.
"We were unlucky he was not sent off. [Taylor] could have sanctioned him even harder. At the time I thought it was a bad challenge. I had no idea quite the degree of severity. It definitely affected Wilf," Hodgson told reporters at his post-match press conference.
"We didn't see anything like the best of him until late in the game. One can understand that type of challenge affecting him. We have to get used to that. Players of his match-winning ability do get targeted. He was targeted by that foul but he got over that and his ending to the game was quite good.
"At 2-0, we could have thought it wasn't our day, but we asked a lot of questions in the last 20 minutes. We really should have equalised with that header [from Joel Ward] in the last minute. At 2-2, I would have been satisfied. On balance we could well have been worthy of a point. But we didn't get it; that's what we live with. Now we have to be ready for the next one."
Zaha's goal saw him become the leading Premier League goalscorer in Crystal Palace history, surpassing Chris Armstrong with his 24th strike in the division.