Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Crystal Palace
Inspired by Gareth Bale and Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur offered further proof that a top-four spot is within reach by comfortably dispatching Crystal Palace by four goals to one to record their third successive Premier League victory.
Lilywhites boss, Jose Mourinho expected an altogether tighter contest: “It’s a difficult match, they defend a lot and well, they have a lot of good defenders, people who enjoy defending, enjoy playing in a defensive team,” he explained ahead of the game.
However, after a slow start, and against Palace side initially content to defend deep and in numbers, the home side eventually roared home and moved within two points of the Champions League places.
Heung-Min Son should have given Spurs the perfect start – the South Korean nodding directly into Vicente Guaita’s gloves after the rejuvenated Bale had picked him out.
As it transpired, a mistake was the South Londoners undoing. Skipper, Luka Milivojevic was caught dawdling – Kane centred – Bale on hand to convert the simplest of chances from close-range.
Lucas Moura and Sergio Reguilón fluffed their lines when presented with opportunities to double the advantage. And that proved costly. Milivojevic made up for his earlier error, picking out Christian Benteke in first-half stoppage time – the Belgian sending a thumping header high beyond Hugo Lloris to level the contest with Palace’s first genuine attempt.
But Spurs were back in front four minutes after the restart. Kane headed Reguilón’s centre back across goal – Bale again on hand to do the honours, heading home from three-yards.
Something was missing? A Kane goal. The England skipper duly obliged three minutes later, sending a glorious effort curling high over Guaita and into the top corner of the net.
Substitute Wilfried Zaha hit the foot of an upright as Palace looked for a lifeline. But Tottenham now occupied a firm hold on proceedings. Erik Lamela and Son combined – Kane with the finish to seal the deal after VAR had taken an unnecessarily lengthy look.
Spurs now turn their attention to the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen – Dinamo Zagreb will visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a first-leg tie on Thursday, March 11 (8pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Matt Doherty, Davinson Sánchez, Toby Alderweireld, Sergio Reguilón, Harry Winks (Moussa Sissoko 70’), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Gareth Bale (Erik Lamela 70’), Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane (Carlos Vinicius 80’) Subs not used: Joe Hart (GK), Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Tanguy Ndombele, Ben Davies
Booked: Matt Doherty (foul)
Goals: Gareth Bale 25’, 49’, Harry Kane 52’, 77’
Crystal Palace: Vicente Guaita, Joel Ward, Chiekhou Kouyaté, Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt, Andros Townsend (Jeffrey Schlupp 65’), Jairo Riedewald, Luka Milivojevic, Eberechi Eze (Wilfried Zaha 46’) Jordan Ayew, Christian Benteke (Jean-Philippe Mateta 74’) Subs not used: Jack Butland (GK), Scott Dann, Connor Wickham, Michy Batshuayi, Martin Kelly, Reece Hannam
Booked: Jordan Ayew (foul), Gary Cahill (foul), Jairo Riedewald (foul)
Goals: Christian Benteke 45+1’
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis and Neil Davies
Fourth Official: Andre Marriner
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Mark Scholes