Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira sang the praises of goalkeeper Jack Butland after his side earned a 1-1 draw at rivals Brighton.
Palace were second best for much of the evening at the Amex Stadium but remained in the contest thanks to a string of fine saves from Butland, including from Pascal Gross’ first-half penalty.
The second-best Eagles looked set to escape Sussex with all three points for the third successive season following Conor Gallagher’s 69th-minute strike before a late Joachim Andersen own goal levelled matters.
“Jack is a real professional, he is a positive professional,” said Vieira.
“He has been frustrated not playing but he never complained, he never showed it, he always kept working hard and when forwards want to do finishing (in training) he’s always the first to put his hand up and he is a really good character in the dressing room.
“Today I am really pleased that he had that game, that performance because all the work he’s been doing the last couple of months, couple of years paid today.
“It was good for us that he was at his best today.”
Butland superbly kept out Leandro Trossard inside 10 minutes and then repelled Gross’ tame spot-kick during a crazy two-minute spell.
VAR was at the heart of the drama, assisting referee Robert Jones in awarding the penalty following Will Hughes’ adjudged foul on Joel Veltman, before helping rule out Neal Maupay’s strike for a foul on Palace’s keeper moments later.
Butland, who was at fault for a goal when Palace beat Millwall in the FA Cup last weekend, also superbly denied Seagulls midfielder Jakub Moder.
“I think it is a good draw, it is a point I am happy with,” added Vieira.
“Both teams had their own half but going back home with a draw is good for us.
“You just have to give credit to Brighton with the way they played.
“We knew they were a team that are really comfortable on the ball and we have to accept that we needed to defend well and I think we did it at times.”
Dominant Brighton also hit the crossbar through Poland international Moder before being sucker-punched by Gallagher’s seventh goal of the season.
Having somehow contrived to lose this fixture 2-1 last season, the hosts looked set for another galling defeat until Maupay’s low cross forced a mistake from Andersen three minutes from time.
The entertaining south coast stalemate moved Albion to eighth on goal difference, three places and four points above their opponents.
“They (the players) will be disappointed because we haven’t won the game,” he said.
“As you can tell from our performance, they gave everything in the game, they played with real intensity, real positivity, the first half especially we were really dominant and, if we’re honest, we should have gone in a goal ahead to reflect that dominance.
“But again, the performance was brilliant, I really liked it, I really liked everything they did.