"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published March 2018, but first written in 1998
FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 28TH MARCH, 1998
CRYSTAL PALACE 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(0)
Crystal Palace scorer:-
Crystal Palace:- Miller; Edworthy, Gordon, Curcic (Hreidarsson, 60),
Lombardo, Padovano (Shipperley, 65), Brolin (Billio, 75), Rodger, Smith,
Subs not used: Nash, Bent.
Tottenham:- Walker; Carr (Howells, 30), Vega, Calderwood, Campbell, Wilson; Fox (Brady, 73), Berti, Saib; Armstrong (Dominguez, 81), Klinsmann
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Mabbutt.
Booked:- Armstrong, Fox, Dominguez.
SPURS STORM THE PALACE
So this is how it ends for Crystal Palace. By the final
whistle it had become a matter of how many Tottenham would score
against their deflated fellow relegation strugglers. Yet for the
opening 45 minutes it had been a very different story.
Attilio Lombardo summed it up best: At half-time we thought we
should have been ahead. By the end we were lucky to be only 3-1
On a heavy surface and under sapping March sunshine there was
always the danger that if Palace did not capitalise on their fine
start then the fact many of them had barely played a competitive
game all year would cost them dear. How true it proved.
Because while running the opposition ragged in the first half,
they were running themselves into the ground and, slowly but
surely, out of contention in this capital relegation six-pointer.
The 1million deadline-day singing from Aston Villa, Sasa Curcic
was a perfect example. Outstanding for 45 minutes, the Yugoslav
midfielder could barely summon the strength to walk off when
substituted after 52 minutes. The standing ovation received from
a sold-out Selhurst Park underlined his earlier influence.
Michele Padovano, an Italian barely seen since his arrival
from Juventus, was back from injury, went off soon after Curcic,
clearly struggling after three months out injured. Tomas Brolin,
who had not trained for two days because of flu, was next to
falter, meaning player/manager Lombardo, himself getting back to
match sharpness after a long layoff, had no option but to plod
By the time of Brolin's exit on 65 minutes, Spurs had taken
the lead and were well on the way to guaranteeing themselves
three vital points. The goal came in the 55th minute. A long
throw from impressive Ruel Fox, flicked on by Jurgen Klinsmann,
found its way to an unmarked Nicolas Berti, whose looped header
deceived everyone including goalkeeper Kevin Miller. He stood
motionless, watching the ball dip under the bar to give Tottenham
the critical opener.
If that was a blow to the Palace survival bid then Chris
Armstrong's flying header into the roof of the net 16 minutes on,
from Fox's whipped cross, was an absolute killer. Whenever
Tottenham breached the midfield of Palace, there was absolutely
no cover whatsoever - the players out of position, out of breath
and out of touch with proceedings.
All of which made a third Spurs goal inevitable, and but for
two brilliant stops from Miller to deny Armstrong and Klinsmann,
it would have arrived sooner than the 77th minute.
Moussa Saib, Tottenham's astute Moroccan signing, collected
possession in the centre circle, and ate up the empty ground ahead
before releasing German striker Klinsmann. Making amends for a
terrible miss at the start when he fired high and wide from five
yards, the ageing forward clinically lofted the ball in for the
third goal of his second spell with the club.
No wonder, the Spurs players were celebrating at the final
whistle. Not even a consolation effort from Neil Shipperley,
playing his first game in three months, could wipe off the
Armstrong, unlucky to be booked for diving but lucky to stay
on later after clearly handling a disallowed goal, said:
"This was the best performance since Chris took over. We
turned it on a bit, and if we carry on like this it should be no
problem staying up but we have still have a big games to come
against Barnsley and Everton so we can't afford to sit
Poor old Palace, though, must now be all but out of the battle
to beat the drop. Still without a home win in the League this
season and with five of their last seven games on their own
patch, the yo-yo south Londoners, up and down from the
Premiership more times than any other since the top flight's
inception in 1992, are now four points adrift of the rest.
Spurs manager Christian Gross, who has not had much to cheer
about in his four months in England, beamed: "It was a good
win in the circumstances. The next one versus Everton will be
much the same.
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