6,500 passionate Eagles fans were present in SE25 for Wednesday night’s London derby amid the easing of Covid-19 restictions as their manager of four years bid an emotional farewell to Selhurst Park.
Boyhood Palace fan and Croydon native Hodgson, who it was announced on Tuesday would be stepping down at the end of the season with his contract due to expire and move away from top-flight management at the age of 73, was greeted to a memorable pre-match guard of honour by both sets of players and received a wonderful ovation from the home crowd before an absorbing and feisty contest.
However, stoppage-time goals from substitute Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe spoilt the party for the former England boss after Christian Benteke’s diving header had initially cancelled out Pepe’s first-half volley and set up a grandstand finish.
Such a late show leaves Arsenal still in with a chance of avoiding missing out on Europe for the first time in 25 seasons as they prepare to finish the campaign at home to Brighton, though they will be watching events at The Hawthorns closely tonight as fellow top-six hopefuls West Ham battle relegated West Brom after Everton defeated Wolves and Tottenham were beaten by Aston Villa.
Meanwhile, Palace – who lost talented winger Eberechi Eze to a serious Achilles injury suffered in training this week that will keep him sidelined for months – remain 13th ahead of a final game of the season that will see Hodgson travel to face former club Liverpool at Anfield.