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Freedman: We deserved our victory
CRYSTAL Palace will travel to Cardiff for the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final as slight favourites to reach Wembley after an Anthony Gardner header gave the Eagles a 1-0 win in front of a packed Selhurst Park.
Cardiff were the form side going into the game and dominated possession in the early stages.
But it was the hosts got the only goal of the game just before half-time and produced a defensive performance manager Dougie Freedman believes made his side deserving of victory.
“It was a tight game and I think we just marginally deserved the win and we’ve got that vital clean sheet,” he said.
“We dug in, it wasn’t pretty but who says football has to be pretty?
“It was about real determination and showing a lot of character to keep that clean sheet.
“We defended very, very well and on the break we were exciting and that’s the way we play.
“Julian Speroni is quite simply the best goalkeeper in the division and the way that Anthony Gardner, Paddy McCarthy and Peter Ramage defend allows the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Darren Ambrose and Glenn Murray to take the headlines.
“I look at Anthony Gardner’s performance tonight and it was rock solid and that is why he gets my man of the match, not for his goal.”
Freedman was particularly pleased considering the virus which badly hampered their preparation for the game and ruled out Nathaniel Clyne and Dean Moxey.
“Not bad for a team that I feel that has been very unlucky in its preparation,” he insisted when asked about the performance.
“We’ve had to patch up a couple of players and get them out there.
“What I decided to do was look them in the eye and ask them if they were prepared to put their bodies on the line for the club and the answer was a convincing yes.
“Mile Jedinak and Paddy McCarthy were real heroes tonight because they were pretty much in their sick beds last night.
“Full credit to the guys who made it, real character was required and we showed that today.”
The Palace boss will hope to have no such issues for the return leg and while prepared for the test which awaits in two weeks, he is confident it will be him leading out his side at Wembley.
Freedman explained: “We will be stronger because now we will come back a fitter squad and I can prepare a little bit better than I have been.
“We will be asked a lot of questions from a very good side and a very good manager who will prepare them just as he did tonight.
“So it’s going to be tough for us but I just feel as though we’ve got enough in our locker to keep a clean sheet down there.”
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