HONG KONG (Reuters) - Frank de Boer has called on referees to provide more protection for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha after seeing the winger endure a rough ride against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.
Zaha faced a difficult evening against Tony Pulis's side as Palace ran out 2-0 winners in the third-place playoff thanks to a curling free kick by Luka Milivojevic and a deflected effort from Bakary Sako, with both goals coming in the first half.
"If you want to sell the Premier League here and the beauty of the game, the beauty of the game is not those kind of challenges," said manager De Boer.
"Of course, when it's a fair challenge then for me it's not a problem, but for example for Wilf Zaha they were really looking for him, to injure him, and we can't accept that. No manager can accept that.
"He's one of the exciting players of the Premier League. I don't want to think that he's out for a couple of weeks or months.
"When it's fair, you don't hear me complain but he might be a little bit unlucky." De Boer was particularly upset about a challenge on the Ivory Coast international by Craig Dawson early in the game. The West Brom centre half escaped a booking from Hong Kong referee Ng Chiu Kok during an encounter which Pulis labelled "very competitive".
"The first challenge I think it was a yellow card and then he knows 'I can't do another one'," said De Boer.
"Now you give him the permission to do another challenge, so I think if you want to sell the Premier League you have to do the job to avoid these crazy kind of challenges.
"I think I have to give Wilf a good compliment because he stayed calm and spoke with his feet and he made a big step in that, so compliments to Wilf."
Despite the win, De Boer wants to see improvements from his team, who lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the tournament on Wednesday, before the Premier League kicks off in two weeks' time.
"Against Liverpool I think we played better, even though we lost because we gave too many opportunities away," said De Boer.
"Also I saw some very good things but we have to improve. Everybody can see that.
"To go home with a victory is nice, it gives you confidence and overall I'm satisfied with the games."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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