First-half display costly at Palace
Crystal Palace 2-0 Spurs
Sun 27 January 2019, 17:56|Tottenham Hotspur
First-half goals from Connor Wickham and Andros Townsend consigned us to defeat at Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.
Wickham bundled home inside nine minutes and Townsend made it 2-0 from the penalty spot shortly after the half-hour mark following a handball by Kyle Walker-Peters, but if the tie wasn't lost in that spell, it probably was in the four minutes leading up to half-time as two golden chances were spurned, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou denied by a double-save from Julian Speroni with the goal gaping and Kieran Trippier firing a penalty of our own wide.
As in the midweek Carabao Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea, we changed shape at the interval and Erik Lamela injected a lot of attacking impetus as we completely dominated the play, but a pair of Fernando Llorente shots, well stopped by Speroni, were our best efforts at goal in the second half as Palace sat on their lead to advance to round five. It was the first away game this season in which we've failed to score.
We were much-changed with seven different starting players to the side that lost on penalties at Stamford Bridge, but the hosts opened the scoring nine minutes in when Jeffrey Schlupp shrugged off Davinson Sanchez as he burst into the box on the right, his angled shot was parried by Paulo Gazzaniga but only into the path of Palace's returning striker Wickham, who converted off his knee from point-blank range.
Gazzaniga claimed Patrick van Aanholt's long-range strike well but was powerless to prevent ex-Spur Townsend from converting a penalty to double his side's advantage with 34 minutes played after a cross struck Walker-Peters' flailing arm in the box. Townsend went straight down the middle but refused to celebrate against his boyhood club. He might have had to restrain his emotions again two minutes later as he ran onto van Aanholt's cut-back in the box after a Palace counter, but Gazzaniga denied him a second with a superb stop.
Then came those costly misses. First, Nkoudou - on his first start in our colours since December, 2017 - had two clear shots at goal following Trippier's short free-kick but was denied twice by goalkeeper Speroni on 41 minutes, before Trippier put his penalty wide after Juan Foyth was fouled in the box by van Aanholt three minutes later.
We ramped up the pressure after half-time with Lamela a lively presence all over the pitch but clear shooting chances weren't forthcoming. Speroni scrambled Llorente's shot-on-the-turn beyond the foot of his right-hand post on 52 minutes and got in the way of another effort from the Spanish striker nine minutes later after a purposeful burst into the box by Eric Dier. Victor Wanyama came off the bench for his first appearance since November's 1-0 win on the same ground and young striker Kazaiah Sterling was given a chance in the last 10 minutes but the last opportunity of the game went to the hosts as Gazzaniga denied Wilfried Zaha with a smart low save at his near post.
Nkoudou saw a great chance to halve the deficit go begging when Speroni made a double-save, but if that wasn't costly enough, Trippier's penalty miss certainly was.
With half-time fast approaching, the England right-back stepped up after Foyth was fouled in the area but was left kicking himself as he dragged his effort wide of Speroni's right-hand post. It would have been a great time to score but, alas, Palace were off the hook and defended wave after wave of second-half pressure to advance in the competition at our expense.
It was our second cup exit in the space of four days, but while we lost on penalties in the Carabao Cup on Thursday, Mauricio Pochettino put this defeat down to missed chances.
"Of course I’m very disappointed because it’s a difficult moment, after the defeat, to be out of the Carabao Cup and of course now the FA Cup, but that can happen in this busy period of fixtures with a lot of circumstances," he said.
"Again, I'm disappointed. I think we competed but we were not clinical in front of the goal. We dominated, we created chances and we were a little bit unlucky, but now we need to be focused on the competitions that we have ahead, that’s the Premier League and Champions League."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Crystal Palace 2-0 Spurs
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Speroni, Ward, Kelly, Dann (c), Van Aanholt, Meyer (Milivojevic 79), Kouyate, Schlupp, Townsend (Ayew 88), Wickham (Benteke 70), Zaha. Substitutes (not used): Tupper, Wan-Bissaka, Sakho, Riedewald.
Spurs (3-4-2-1): Gazzaniga, Foyth, Sanchez, Vertonghen (c, Lamela 46), Trippier, Dier (Wanyama 62), Skipp, Walker-Peters, Nkoudou, Lucas (Sterling 81), Llorente. Substitutes (not used): Lloris, Aurier, Rose, Winks.
Goals: Palace - Wickham 9, Townsend 34 (pen).
Yellow cards: Palace - Benteke 90+2, Zaha 90+3; Spurs - Sanchez 55, Foyth 60.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Venue: Selhurst Park, London.
Weather: Light rain, light breeze, five degrees.