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Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi was quick to exonerate goalkeeper Robert Sanchez after his error helped Crystal Palace earn a 1-1 draw.

The visitors, who dominated with 75 per cent possession at Selhurst Park, broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute through Solly March.

Six minutes later Sanchez failed to hold onto Michael Olise’s free-kick and James Tomkins took full advantage to head home.

“Robert is a fantastic goalkeeper,” insisted De Zerbi. “He can make mistakes for sure, it’s not a problem. I make more mistakes than him, for this it is not a problem for me.”

Brighton thought they had gone ahead when Pervis Estupinan curled into the top corner after 32 minutes but saw it disallowed after a VAR check determined there was an offside in the build-up.

Palace keeper Vicente Guaita made several good stops to keep his side in the game but De Zerbi was still pleased with how his sixth-placed side performed.

The Italian also sounded more assured about Brighton’s chances of playing European football next season.

 James Tomkins headed home the equaliser for Palace
James Tomkins headed home the equaliser for Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

He said: “We are playing fantastic football. I think it was one of the best games with my time.

“We made a lot of mistakes to score when we had the chances to score but we have to be clear to analyse this game.

“We can be frustrated but we have to be proud. We have to be happy because like this we can fight for a place in Europe. If we continue like this we can fight.”

Palace boss Patrick Vieira lauded Tomkins, who was a late addition to the starting line-up after Chris Richards was ruled out with a back injury.

He said: “I am really, really pleased because when you don’t play often it is really difficult to find this kind of momentum.

“With Chris Richards’ injury he responded really well and he showed a lot of professionalism in the last couple of months. Today he gets rewarded with a goal and I’m happy for him.

“I’m really pleased with the organisation we had, I’m really pleased with the hard work from the team and at the end the team deserved that goal. I’m really happy for them.”