Palace 0-1 Spurs - report from Selhurst Park
Sun 25 February 2018, 14:09|Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane proved to be the match winner once again, heading home an 89th-minute goal to finally break Crystal Palace’s resistance and earn us three vital Premier League points at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
Despite totally dominating the game from start to finish, enjoying 76 per cent possession, the goal looked like it was never going to come until our England striker popped up at the far post to nod in Christian Eriksen’s corner for his 35th goal of the season and the 150th of his club career.
An uneventful first half saw very little of action of note, bar a couple of penalty claims from us and a superb save from Wayne Hennessey to deny Kane from close range with just 10 minutes on the clock.
Palace were resolute defensively and, when we did manage to break through, it was a combination of wastefulness in front of goal and some good saves from Hennessey that was threatening to deny us the win.
Eriksen skied a half-volley over the crossbar, Kane sliced wide when unmarked and with just the goalkeeper to beat and the Palace keeper denied Aurier, Ben Davies and Kane as we laid siege to the home side’s goal.
A glorious chance came and went when Aurier failed to convert inside the last 10 minutes, but we kept plugging away and got our just rewards in the final minute of normal time thanks to that man Kane.
The result made it 15 unbeaten in all competitions and saw us climb up to fourth in the table, above Chelsea ahead of their trip to Manchester United this afternoon.
Toby Alderweireld missed out with a minor hamstring injury, while Jan Vertonghen took a heavy knock to his ankle in training on Saturday and was also unavailable. In all there were three changes to the team that faced Arsenal last time out in the Premier League – Aurier for Kieran Trippier, Victor Wanyama for Vertonghen and Erik Lamela for Heung-Min Son. Only Wanyama retained his place in the starting line-up from the team that faced Rochdale in the FA Cup last week. Lamela was also making his 100th Premier League appearance in our colours.
SAVE: KANE DENIED BY HENNESSEY – 10mins
We were quickly out of the blocks, quietening down the home crowd by dominating possession in the opening 10 minutes. Early penalty claims were waved away when Davies got to Eriksen’s floated free-kick ahead of Hennessey, who appeared to bring him down but referee Kevin Friend said no to our appeals. The Palace keeper then made a fantastic close-range save to deny Kane after Patrick van Aanholt’s poor clearance landed at the striker’s feet eight yards out, while at the other end, Hugo Lloris easily caught James Tomkins’ header.
CHANCE: LLORIS SAVES TOWNSEND’S EFFORT – 45mins
The early action suggested it might be an entertaining half but, while there was plenty of commitment and endeavour from both sides, there was little goalmouth drama for the rest of the period. James McArthur saw a 20-yard drive blocked by Davinson Sanchez, Kane was upended in the area but was already flagged off-side before the last chance of the half just before the break saw former Spur Andros Townsend break away down the right, cut inside Eric Dier and try his luck from 25 yards out, only for his effort to bobble through to Lloris.
Above: Eric Dier up against Christian Benteke.
CHANCE: KANE WIDE FROM CLOSE RANGE – 54mins
There were no changes to either side at half-time and no change to the pattern of the game at the start of the second half. We were immediately on the front foot again, having a good chance to break the deadlock six minutes in when patient build-up ended with Davies’ cross flicking off a defender and falling nicely to Eriksen, who scuffed his half-volley over the bar. Just three minutes later, Aurier and Eriksen combined for Kane, six yards out with just the keeper to beat, but he sliced his volley wide of the far post. Hennessey then made a smart save to deny Aurier as we cranked up the pressure.
SAVE: HENNESSEY FULL-STRETCH TO DENY DAVIES – 72mins
Although not seeing much of the ball in forward areas, Palace did have an opening when Alex Sorloth looked to be in on goal, but a superb last-ditch tackle from Aurier denied him the shooting opportunity. We introduced Lucas Moura for his Premier League debut in place of Lamela and as we continued to mount attack after attack, almost went ahead from the unlikely boot of Davies, whose shot on the turn was heading towards the bottom corner before his Welsh compatriot Hennessey dived full length to tip it wide.
CHANCE: AURIER MISSES OPEN GOAL – 85mins
It continued to be one-way traffic towards the Palace goal, with Son introduced as another attacking threat as we searched for the opener. On 83 minutes, Kane nutmegged Sorloth, beat Townsend and fired goalwards, Fosu-Mensah diverted it goalwards but Hennessey was able to save at his near post. Then came the chance of the game as we worked it wide again to Davies, his superb low centre went right across the face of the goal to Aurier at the back post who just had to tap it home, but got the ball stuck under his feet and Palace cleared.
GOAL: PALACE 0-1 SPURS – HARRY KANE – 89mins
We stuck to our footballing philosophy even in the closing stages and Kane went close again, dragging a shot just wide of the far post before the goal finally came. In the end it was just as straight-forward as they come, Eriksen sending over a deep corner which Kane met at the back stick, climbing above substitute Damien Delaney to send his header into the net, Hennessey getting fingertips to it but unable to keep it out. We were able to see out four minutes of stoppage time without any trouble, the final whistle greeted with a huge cheer from our fantastic travelling fans.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO SAID
"I'm so happy because in the end we've won the game, late, but in the end, fully deserved. I think the performance was good, we fully deserved the victory and I'm so happy because we fought a lot and dominated the game. I think we were confident and the team in the second half... it's true that we were pushing a lot and we dominated the game completely and in the end we are so happy because the victory puts us in a very good position in the table, fighting to finish in a good position at the end of the season."
Eric Dier said
"I thought we did well, played well throughout and controlled the game, but we were very disappointed not to have scored earlier. It felt like it was going to be one of those days after a while where we couldn’t score but thankfully in the end Harry got that goal which was so important for us. I feel very good playing there (at centre-half). It’s never good having to do that through an injury to such an important player like Jan, he’s been fantastic all season so it’s really disappointing that he got hurt yesterday and hopefully he’s back as soon as possible, but I feel really good and within this team, it’s easy to play anywhere."
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele (Son 80), Eriksen, Dele, Lamela (Lucas 66), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Trippier, Rose, Foyth, Sissoko.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins (Delaney 85), van Aanholt, Milivojevic (c), Riedewald, McArthur, Townsend (Lee 87), Benteke, Sorloth. Substitutes (not used): Substitutes: Henry, Souare, Rakip, Lokilo, Kirby.
Goal: Spurs – Kane 89.
Yellow card: Spurs - Dembele.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Man of the Match
Harry Kane was selected by our supporters as Man of the Match on social media, with 51 per cent of the votes.
Wednesday sees us return to FA Cup action as we take on Rochdale in our fifth round replay after the two sides drew 2-2 at Spotland in the first game. Dale have won four of their six FA Cup ties this season, yet have managed only five wins in 30 League One matches and dropped to the bottom of the table on Saturday after a 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic. Kick-off at Wembley is at 7.45pm.