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Men's Football Hodgson praises Sako in Palace's close victory over Burnley

BAKARY SAKO’S solo-effort in the first-half was enough to give Crystal Palace an important victory over Sean Dyche’s Burnley at Selhurst Park yesterday.

The game ebbed and flowed with both teams having opportunities to go ahead in the opening period. However, the decisive goal was scored when Sako drifted in from the left-hand side and rifled a deflected effort past Nick Pope.

Palace looked to double their advantage soon afterwards but James McArthur couldn’t make use of Wilfried Zaha’s cross as Ben Mee did enough to put him off tapping into an open goal. 

Goal-scorer Sako almost doubled his tally by scoring one of the goals of the season as he volleyed Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s cross just inches past the upright, sending the visitors into half-time fortunate to be just one goal down.

The Mali international’s performance pleased his manager Roy Hodgson, who praised the striker for grasping his opportunity.

“Three goals in three games. As a manager you can’t ask for more than that. He must be delighted, he has waited a long time for his chance,” said Hodgson. 

“But of course, as the game goes on and he gets a little bit tired, some bad old habits start to creep in. But they’re habits that he’s working very hard to get out of his game. 

“We’re absolutely delighted with a) his goal and also his work rate. That’s one thing we can’t criticise Bakary for — ever.”

Despite the result, Burnley manager Sean Dyche wasn’t too disheartened by his own side’s performance.

“It was close, close with no cigar. They were better than us in the first half, not by miles, just had that feeling. Second half … we probably deserved to scratch a draw out of the game in the end. 

“The margins are tighter. This season we’re winning a lot of games where the margin’s tight in them. I still think we’ve moved a long way from where we were last season, particularly away from home. 

“Second half we’ve really taken that game on today and, like I said, arguably, we probably deserved to scratch something out of it.”

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