Alan Pardew bemoaned the performance of the referee as Crystal Palace slipped to a 4-1 defeat to Southampton.
In the defeat that came via goals from Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, Ryan Bertrand – from the penalty spot – and Steven Davis, Palace lost momentum in the build-up to next weekend’s FA Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley.
Jason Puncheon scored their only goal with a fine finish, when they were already 2-0 down, but manager Alan Pardew refused to be disheartened by their performance, believing referee Michael Oliver – particularly when awarding Southampton’s penalty for a challenge on Mane that appeared to be outside the area – made crucial mistakes.
“I was a bit disappointed with the referee’s decisions,” Pardew said. “The Pelle goal was a definite push (on Adrian Mariappa), and he actually looks round at the ref as if to say ‘Did you see it?’ And he should have seen it, but he didn’t.
“The penalty decision again, which is outside the box, and the linesman overruled him. His gut feeling is it was outside, he stood on the edge of the box for a little while, and the linesman gave that, and he got it wrong.
“The game was really balanced at 2-1, it was really open, a really good game. I’m not making any suggestion we deserved to win, but it certainly could have been tighter and closer, and we could have eked a draw out if we had taken our chances.”