Hodgson opted to replace his star man during the final quarter of an hour at St James' Park, before Mikel Merino went on to net the only goal of the game in the North-East.
Zaha appeared to be visibly disappointed when leaving the pitch, but Hodgson remains satisfied that his decision to withdraw the winger was the correct one.
The 70-year-old is quoted by the London Evening Standard as saying: "Wilf wants to play every minute of every game, but he was tiring because we asked a lot of him and Andros [Townsend] up front.
"They work very hard to create for us and also to defend for us. Ruben can cause a threat coming from deep and we thought it might be a good idea to give Wilf a rest and get fresh legs on."
Zaha was making only his second appearance since a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.