Palace 0-1 Spurs
Report from Selhurst Park
18 August 2013|Tottenham Hotspur
A first penalty in the Premier League under the leadership of Andre Villas-Boas and a debut goal goal for Roberto Soldado was the means to victory on the opening day of the season at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Like last week in the friendly against Espanyol, Soldado was cool and clinical in his execution and his strike proved to be enough, with Hugo Lloris not having too many anxious moments until the latter stages.
The teams emerged to a sea of blue and red being held aloft from the Holmesdale End with the soundtrack of the Palace signature tune 'Glad all Over' ringing all around the ground on a humid afternoon in South London.
Andre handed Premier League debuts to three of his four new signings. Paulinho slotted into to central midfield alongside Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli operated off the left, with Soldado leading the line.
Soldado had half a chance on seven minutes when he stooped in order to latch on to a Danny Rose cross, but the angle was tricky and Julian Speroni in the Palace goal was always unlikely to be troubled.
Paulinho would have troubled the keeper a few minutes later when he burst through but referee Mr Clattenburg stopped play for a foul on Mile Jedinak. It looked a harsh call and replays showed the Palace captain simply fell over.
Dembele then unleashed a piledriver from 25 yards that alarmed Speroni but fired narrowly over before, on 23 minutes, Aaron Lennon had the chance to unlock the gate after being played in behind by Kyle Walker, but he delayed his delivery and a smothering tackle prevented the ball entering the six yard box.
Lloris easily foiled an Aaron Wilbraham header at the other end after a smart set piece from Owen Garvan following a foul by Rose.
Speroni made a superb tip over to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson on 35 minutes, with the playmaker turning and shooting from the edge of the area after picking up a loose ball from Lennon. Lennon got away again five minutes before the break courtesy of Walker but opted to try and pick out a tightly marked Soldado, with Sigurdsson waiting in more space a few yards further back.
It was not fluent and flowing, but the possession and sharpness all appeared in working order - the finishing touch to moves of promise, in particular the final ball, was required.
Lennon did dispatch a fine cross on the stroke of half-time but the ball was headed narrowly over by Chadli.
The deadlock was broken after a spell of pressure, when a Lennon cross struck the hand of Dean Moxey and referee Mr Clattenburg had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Step up Soldado on 50 minutes! 1-0.
Seven minutes later following some aerial pressure, Andre introduced Etienne Capoue in place of Dembele, perhaps as a little added insurance with an enforcer replacing a playmaker, and a fourth debutant.
Palace did respond in a positive fashion and, for the first time in the game really, the team were planted on the back foot.
The crowd were then lifted by a triple change from Ian Holloway - Jonny Williams, Kevin Phillips and Marouane Chamakh on 65 minutes.
Three minutes later and the advantage should have been doubled. Walker set Soldado off on a charge and the Spaniard unselfishly squared for Sigurdsson to finish, but he dragged his effort wide.
At the other end, Lloris turned centre half and tackled Phillips on the edge of the area before Dwight Gayle sprinted clear after a long clearance and was brilliantly caught and shackled by Rose at full pelt.
Chadli then drove just wide after a winding run and moments later employed some trickery in the area before dinking the ball over Speroni, but unfortunately over the bar. Lloris then saved well Damien Delaney at his near post after attempting to cut out a cross.
Jermain Defoe and Younes Kaboul were introduced in the last ten minutes for Soldado and Rose, Defoe working himself a fine chance to seal the win with space and time to shoot, but his effort rolled wide.
It was Lloris to the rescue in the final moments with a double save to deny Phillips and Kagisho Dikgacoi when an equaliser looked harrowingly likely.
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Wilbraham (Williams, 66), Garvan (Phillips, 66), Dobbie (Chamakh, 66); Gayle. Unused subs: Alexander, Campana, O'Keefe, Marange.
Spurs (4-3-3): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose (Kaboul, 86); Dembele (Capoue, 57), Paulinho, Sigurdsson; Lennon, Soldado (Defoe, 83), Chadli. Unused subs: Friedel, Naughton, Carroll, Townsend.
Goals: Spurs - Soldado (penalty, 50).
Yellow card: Palace - Jedinak.
Referee: Mr M Clattenburg.