18 July 2024


Tottenham condemn homophobic abuse from section of fans during Chelsea clash

Spurs move five points clear after Palace raid

Spurs were not at their sparkling best, but they did not need to be so poor were Palace, who struggled for goals all season, particularly at Selhurst Park.

Mind the gap. Tottenham opened up a five-point lead – temporarily at least – over Manchester City and Arsenal with a routine win at Crystal Palace.

Spurs were not at their sparkling best, but they did not need to be so poor were Palace, who struggled for goals all season, particularly at Selhurst Park. Jordan Ayew’s late strike was little consolation for a side that have only scored in two of their five home games.

By contrast, Spurs have not failed to score in any game this season, and although they hardly peppered Sam Johsntone in the Palace goal, two strikes in the space of 13 second-half minutes were enough to see them through. An own goal from Joel Ward and another strike for Heung Min Son sent Spurs on their way, and although there was a nervy final period, Tottenham were deserved winners.

The first half was pretty forgettable. Spurs had most of the possession but moved the ball too slowly to penetrate Palace’s dogged defence. Roy Hodgson had set out his side to let Spurs have the ball but not let them in no goal, and it worked to the extent they did not manage an effort on target in the opening 45 minutes.

Palace, by contrast, were happy to soak up pressure and hit Spurs on the break. Will Hughes ran from the halfway line to put in Ayew, whose firm shot was well saved by Guglielmo Vicario. The Tottenham keeper made an even better save a minute later, getting down low to turn away a snapshot from Odsonne Edouard on the turn.

Palace then forced a series of corners, resulting finally in Joel Ward having a long shot deflected away. It was stodgy stuff, with little real goalmouth action, and no surprise that the first half ended goalless.

Postecoglou made one change at half-time, sending on Emerson Royal in place of Ben Davies at left-back, and within eight minutes they were ahead. Cristian Romero and Pape Mata Sarr exchanged passes on the right, and when the young midfielder cut the ball back, James Maddison drove a half-volley across the face of goal towards the far post, where the unfortunate Ward put the ball into his own net.

Postecoglou made two more changes, replacing the ineffective Richarlison with Brennan Johnson, who was instrumental in Tottenham’s second goal. Sarr hit a long diagonal pass from right to left, and Johnson used his head to move the ball on to Maddison. The England midfielder, who was not at his sparkling best, darted into the penalty area and played the ball back to Johnson, whose cutback was swept home by Son with a simple finish. It was the Korean’s eighth goal of the season, putting him one behind Erling Haaland in the Premier League’s top scorer’s list.

More importantly it gave Tottenham a two-goal cushion, and gave Postecoglou the luxury of bringing on Rodrigo Bentancur for his first game since February. The Uruguayan, one of their best players last season, has been missing with injury, but his return ws greeted by a huge roar from Tottenham’s travelling fans.

Palace made it a nervy finale when Ayew scored with a volley four minutes into 12 minutes of added time, and Matheus Franca blazed over the bar with almost the last kick of the game, as Spurs held on for victory and extended their unbeaten run to ten games.

“We are top of the league,” sang their fans, and this result will ensure they have at least one more week in pole position. The big question is can they keep it up?

CRYSTAL PALACE 4-5-1 Johnstone 6; Ward 5, Andersen 6, Guehi 7, Mitchell 6 (Clyne 70); Ayew 6, Lerma 5 (Franca 79), Doucoure 5, Hughes 6 (Ahamada 70), Schlupp 5 (Rak-Sakyi 60); Edouard 5 (Mateta 79).

TOTTENHAM 4-2-3-1 Vicario 7; Porro 7, Romero 8, Van de Ven 8, Davies 6 (Emerson Royal 46); Sarr 8, Bissouma 7 (Hojbjerg 63); Kulusevski 7 (Gil 89), Maddison 7 (Bentancur 89), Richarlison 6 (Johnson 63); Son 7.

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