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Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Brian Jeeves reporting from Selhurst Park
Turning the clock back to April 26, 2017, and a late winner for the Lilywhites at Selhurst Park…
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN’S superb late strike was enough to earn Tottenham Hotspur a vital London derby victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, keeping alive their Premier League title hopes.
The Crystal Palace revival under the management of Sam Allardyce had been nothing short of miraculous. The South Londoners looked nailed relegation candidates before the former West Ham bosses appointment back in December. However, having tasted defeat just once in their last seven outings, Palace sat in a fairy healthy twelfth place, knowing one more victory would probably be enough to secure their top-flight status for another season.
Meanwhile, Spurs travelled across the capital knowing only a win would be enough to keep up their pursuit of league leaders, Chelsea. Indeed, the Stamford Bridge club extending their lead at the top to seven points with a 4-2 success over Southampton twenty-four hours earlier, leaving Mauricio Pochettino’s men needing favours as well as being faced with having to win each of their remaining games to stand a chance of snatching the title.
Harry Kane’s speculative effort was too high as Spurs offered the first meaningful attempt at goal. However, it was Palace who were playing the crisper football, with former White Hart Lane favourite, Andros Townsend, looking particularly in the mood, while Christian Benteke offered the host’s first opportunity, firing directly at Hugo Lloris from twelve yards.
Kyle Walker was wayward, while Eriksen’s close-range effort was expertly dealt with by Palace goalkeeper, Wayne Hennessey, as nervy Spurs looked to find their feet. However, as the half wore on it was the home side who continued to impress with Townsend firing over and Wilfried Zaha causing the visitors backline a series of headaches with his pace and power.
Kane fired the wrong side of an upright, while Dele Alli was a whisker away after meeting Walker’s pinpoint centre Spurs started the second period on the front foot.
Spurs were now controlling proceedings. Hennessey expertly kept out another curling effort from Alli, while Walker’s thunderbolt was only inches away with the Welsh stopper rooted to the spot. Meanwhile, the Palace cause wasn’t helped by a nasty looking knee injury to the influential Mamadou Sakho, who was treated for several minutes before being stretchered from the field.
But with twelve minutes remaining the Spurs pressure paid off. Kane teed up Eriksen, who in turn swept a superb effort beyond Hennessey from all of thirty-yards, much to the delight, and relief, of the vocal contingent of visiting supporters.
This victory once again closed the gap on Chelsea to four points. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome of this particular title race, Spurs have shown the maturity and resilience that was lacking twelve months ago.
Tottenham Hotspur are next in Premier League action on Sunday, April 30 when Arsenal are the visitors to White Hart Lane (4:15pm).
Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Joel Ward, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho (Damien Delaney 57’), Christian Benteke (Frazier Campbell 81’), James McArthur (Yohan Cabaye 64’), Luka Milivojevic, Jeffrey Schlupp, Martin Kelly, Jason Puncheon (Capt) Subs not used: Julian Speroni (GK), Patrick van Aanholt, Mathieu Flamini, Bakary Sako
Booked: Joel Ward (Foul), Luka Milivojevic (Foul), Wilfried Zaha (Foul)
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Kyle Walker, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane, Victor Wanyama (Moussa Sissoko 46’), Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele (Heung-Min Son 46’), Dele Alli (Kieran Trippier 90+6), Christian Eriksen, Ben Davies Subs not used: Pau Lopez (GK), Vincent Janssen, Georges-Kevin N’koudou, Kevin Wimmer
Booked: Victor Wanyama (Foul), Kyle Walker (Foul), Harry Kane (Foul)
Goals: Christian Eriksen 78’
Assistants: S.Bennett and A.Halliday
Fourth Official: S.Attwell
Reaction to follow……