BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 23RD JANUARY, 2016
CRYSTAL PALACE 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(0)
Vertonghen (o.g), 30
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- M. Mullarkey & S. Long
Fourth official:- J. Linington
Palace (4-2-3-1):- Hennessy; Ward, Dann, Delaney (C), Souare; Cabaye (sub Campbell, 85), Ledley; Zaha, McArthur (sub Jedinak, 79), Puncheon; Wickham
(Jedinak took over the Captain's armband)
Subs not used:- Speroni; Kelly; Lee Chung-yong, Mutch; Chamakh
Booked:- McArthur (foul on Son), Jedinak (unsporting conduct)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen (sub Wimmer, 75), Rose; Dier (sub Chadli, 56), Dembele; Son, Eriksen (sub Bentaleb, 88), Alli; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Davies; Lamela, Carroll
Booked:- Trippier (foul on Puncheon), Kane (unsporting conduct)
Dele Alli's stunning goal to remember.
I was at Selhurst Park the day Jurgen Klinsmann scored four goals in our dramatic 6-2 win over Wimbledon in May 1998, and the following year when Steffen Iversen scored the goal which took us to Wembley in 1999 in a Worthington Cup semi-final, but without any doubt the goal I shall remember most at this venue is the incredibly stunning goal by 19 year old Dele Alli in the 84th minute today.
You can't really say that Alli's goal clinched the game for Spurs, because Palace kept fighting to the end, and it took substitute Nacer Chadli's goal in added time to truly seal the points for Spurs.
Thanks to the marvels of the Internet, I have already watched Alli's goal countless times. I expect you have too. You and I, Dele Alli, and all those who witnessed the goal will never forget it. Spurs had won a corner, and in the ensuing play Harry Kane hit a cross from the right across the box from the right. The ball was headed back from beyond the area by Christian Eriksen into the path of Alli, who was just outside the Palace area to the left hand side, with his back to goal. Alli controlled the pass with one touch, then with his second, flicked it over his head before hitting the perfect shot on the volley beating goalkeeper Hennessy inside his right post. It was a goal I have watched countless times already, and one I shall never tire of watching. It was a goal that will live forever in the annals of Spurs history.
The margin between' success and failure in any sport is ever thin, and this was the case today. Palace might have taken a 2-1 lead five minutes before Alli's goal when first Dann with a header, then substitute Jedinak hit the bar with his follow-up shot.
As it happens, Chadli did clinch all three points for Spurs in added time with another excellent goal. Had it not been for Alli's effort, Chadl might have won the headlines.
Mauricio Pochettino made one change from his team which had beaten Sunderland 4-1 last week with Son Heung-min coming in for Lamela. Palace were still missing Bolasie, and haven't won a Premier League game since he last played on December 19th. In fact they hadn't scored a Premier League goal, but we helped them with that today.
By and large, Spurs were on top in the opening phases of the game, without necessarily causing Hennessy too many problems in goal. Hennessy has been prone to errors in recent games, but his handling was good today. Spurs dominated possession and did make the home side look like an away team, often being penned in their own half.
There were worries for Spurs though, for example after three minutes, Eric Dier failed to control the ball which placed Zaha against Vertonghen, who was forced to commit a foul. Puncheon took the kick and fired over Lloris's goal.
Spurs responded with a decent move involving Son, Eriksen and Alli, trying to put in Harry Kane, but the offside flag was raised against Spurs. A Trippier cross worried the goalkeeper, leading to a corner, but nothing came of that. Alderweireld passed to the industrious Dembele, who fed the ball to Son. The South Korean tried a shot from distance, which passed low outside Hennessy's left hand post.
Vertonghen was having a little trouble handling Zaha, but the ball rolled in favour of Hugo Lloris after 12 minutes. Soon after that Alli, Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele combined to deprive Zaha of the ball. The Palace winger got some abuse from the travelling fans, and mouthed his own comments back in their direction.
Kane forced a corner with a shot from the right, following an Eriksen corner after which Alderweireld headed wide across the goal.
There was panic at the back for Spurs when Lloris received a Vertonghen back pass before gifting the ball to Zaha. Vertonghen chased back and tried to retrieve the situation but Spurs managed to clear the ball anyway. Spurs countered through Kane and Alli, but Hennessy was in control here.
Palace took the lead on the half hour. It was their first Premier league goal for a whole month, and it took Spurs to score the goal for them. Eriksen failed to clear the ball just outside his area, and Zaha took advantage hitting a cross which Vertonghen could not help deflecting into his own net. Suddenly, Palace were looking positive, thanks to assistance from Spurs. It was beginning to look like another bad January day at Selhurst Park for Spurs, and I was thinking of a headline such as "Beware of Jan (Vertonghen) at Selhurst Park", having warned of previous bad January trips for Spurs in my preview.
Alderweireld tried to respond for Spurs with a clever side-step, and a low shot from 30 yards, but this passed wide of Hennessy's right post. Hennessy then saved from Alli, after Kane had put him in. Alderweireld made a great defensive block following a Palace corner, before Dembele had a shot blocked at the other end. Trippier and Son had been involved in this move.
At the other end, Zaha hit a shot over the bar from the right side. Eriksen hit a cross from the right with his left foot, and Danny Rose's shot from the left was well saved by Hennessy, whose confidence was really high after some recent mis-haps. Son put a shot wide after build-up play by Eriksen and Kane.
Spurs had an early shout for handball in the second half. Kane had sent Lloris's free kick onto Son, who got into the area and hit a ball which was surely handled at close range by Souare, but ignored by the assistant referee, who was abused by the travelling fans. (I understand that TV replays show the ball hit Souare in the face).
Dier hit a good cross from the right, which Harry Kane headed down, and Hennessy held. Dier, who had played 90 minutes at Leicester mid-week in the cup, was replaced by Chadli. Chadli was soon involved in a move after Dembele and Eriksen, feeding Kane for a shot which was saved.
McArthur was booked for a foul on Son, but Eriksen's long range free kick was easily held by the keeper. Spurs then deservedly equalised when Rose passed inside to Chadli,who stood up a lovely cross for Kane to head past Hennessy.
It was game on, and the travelling fans got noisier and noisier. Souare had a good effort saved by Lloris, after a Palace effort had been blocked. Vertonghen had been hobbling for a while and had to be replaced by Wimmer.
Trippier was booked for a foul on Puncheon, and it was from his free kick that Spurs had a double escape when both Dann and Jedinak hit the bar.
Spurs had another handball shout against Souare after Trippier's cross. This incident was soon followed by Dele Alli's stunning goal, which sent the travelling fans into raptures. Eriksen was replaced by Bentaleb to try and shore up the defence in the face of the expected Palace attempt to draw level.
The football became open and end to end, with Lloris making a save from one-time Spur (on loan) Fraizer Campbell. After a Danny Rose free kick, Alli had a shot rebound off the bar. Then there was a melee following a contretemps between Jedinak and Kane, both of whom got booked.
After four minutes of the five allotted to be added, Nacer Chadli truly clinched the win, receiving the ball from Alli, following a corner. Chadli's finish from the edge of the area was truly accomplished and sealed a great win for Spurs, who moved five points clear of Manchester United, who lost at home to Southampton.
Along with most of the travelling fans, I stayed till the final whistle to give my team and their head coach deserved applause, which was reciprocated in full. It was a great atmosphere, and words cannot really convey what is was like "being there".
Do I dare to dream of a title challenge? Well, the top four should now be the least of our ambitions, and the next big challenge will be when we travel to The Etihad on Valentine's Day. Before that, we do have challenging games against Norwich and Watford.
It's good to be a Spur!
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