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Crystal Palace v Spurs, 13.12.20


Palace scorer:-
Schlupp, 81

Spurs scorer:-
Kane, 23

Attendance:- 2,000

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Simon Beck, Harry Lennard
Fourth official:- Tim Robinson
VAR:- Simon Hooper
Assistant VAR:- Andy Halliday.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2):- Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Cahill, van Aanholt; Schlupp, Milivojevic (Capt.) (sub Riedewald), 73), McArthur, Eze (sub Townsend, 89); Benteke, Zaha
(Armband to Cahill)

Subs not used:- Butland; Ward, Tomkins; Ayew, Batshuayi

Booked:- Milivojevic (foul on Kane)

Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon (sub Davies, 84); Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Ndombele (sub Lo Celso, 67); Bergwijn (sub Dele, 85), Kane, Son

Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Rodon; Lucas Moura

Booked:- Sissoko (foul on Schlupp)

It’s happened again

It's happened again. On the last day of last season, which took place in July we squeezed into Europe with a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. Harry Kane opened the scoring in the first half. Jeffrey Schlupp equalised in the second half. Today we had the same result and scorers, and after Liverpool could only draw at Craven Cottage, we remain at the top of the league! The Palace keeper Vicente Guaita was a clear choice for man of the match, despite his error in allowing Harry Kane to score. Guaita made a world class save from Eric Dier's added time free kick. If only we had tried to increase our lead in the early stages of the second half, rather than let Palace come on to us. Never mind. We will be playing to keep our place at the top of the league on Wednesday.

Four of the five games being played today were in Tier 2 locations so they were allowed 2,000 fans. The Palace fans were spread around the ground and made themselves heard, along with their partisanship. Jose Mourinho made just one change to the team which beat Arsenal, and that was Tanguy Ndombele for Giovani Lo Celso. Roy Hodgson’s side was unchanged from that which beat West Brom 5-1 last week. Gareth Bale didn’t make our bench because of illness, but Dele Alli was one of the seven, whereas Harry Winks didn’t make the eighteen.

The game was played in wet and cold conditions. As usual it was preceded by taking the knee but there was a comical faux pax Christian Benteke raced into the Spurs half and Son went with him, before they both realised their error. It didn’t matter anyway because the ball is always passed backwards at kick-off these days anyway. Maybe a team will surprise the opposition by going forward immediately in future!

After their kick-off Palace did get forward briefly, but it wasn’t long before Spurs were operating a high press. There was a Palace attack which followed an Ndombele error but when Zaha crossed from the left, Spurs recovered and cleared. The two danger men for Palace were Zaha and Eze, who was signed this summer from QPR. After Eze’s pass, Zaha was in a good position and hit a shot from just inside the area, but Toby Alderweireld blocked well. Toby soon became creator with a long ball into the Palace area on the right where Son hit a rising shot from a sharp angle, only just over the target.

Benteke started last week and scored two goals for Palace for the first time since April 2017. After 13 minutes today he cut the ball back from the left of the area giving Zaha the chance to shoot. Zaha’s shot took a slight deflection off Hojbjerg and Hugo Lloris did well to save inside his right post. After another good ball, this time by Eze, Zaha fired well over the target.

Guaita made the first of his notable saves after 17 minutes. Sissoko pushed the ball out to Aurier who crossed low into the area where Ndombele hit an angled shot which Guaita somehow saved. Ndombele had his hands to his head. After another Aurier cross, the ball was cleared to the feet of Reguilon who hit a good shot with his right foot, only just over the bar, although the shot took a deflection and Spurs won a corner. From that corner, Harry Kane headed on target and Guaita made a good reaction save to his left from close range.

Palace skipper Milivojevic was shown a yellow card for a foul on Kane. Spurs over-elaborated on the free kick with four players debating who should take it and what to do. Whatever the plan was, it failed dismally. We did have the lead though in the 23rd minute when Son passed short to Kane who was some 28 yards out. Harry shaped to his right then hit a left foot shot which curved a little. Guaita was wrong-footed and although he did move to his left to save, he was a little late on the ball which hit the net.

After a foul by Kouyate on Bergwijn, Harry tried the free kick from a good 30 yards out, but this was woefully wide. Bergwijn fouled Eze at the other end 25 yards out and Eze took the kick which was actually blocked by a header by heroic Harry Kane! Those of a certain age might remember comic sporting heroes such as Alf Tupper or Bernard Briggs. Harry is our hero alright and on top of his game everywhere on the pitch.

Harry and Bergwijn were involved in a move where Ndombele had a shot which went for a corner off Guaita. Sissoko was booked a for a foul on Schlupp just outside the Spurs area. Such free kicks became more common place after the break, ultimately to our expense. Van Aanholt took the kick which hit our wall. Just before the break Schlupp fed Eze along the outside of the box and Eze hit a right foot shot which beat Lloris but rebounded clear off the outside of Hugo’s left post.

Spurs clearly needed another goal or two to secure the game. Their plan at the start of the second half seemed to be to slow the game down, in which they succeeded, enjoying more possession without penetration. Sissoko challenged Zaha down the Palace right flank and was lucky a) not to be called out for a foul and perhaps b) not to get a second yellow. Those partisan Palace fans thought so, but a second yellow would certainly have been harsh.

After 55 minutes Eze passed to Zaha on his left, and Zaha hit a right foot shot wide of the far post. It looked as if Benteke had fouled Sissoko near the bye-line but no foul was given and Palace had another chance, this time a shot by Eze which was straight at Lloris. At last Spurs managed a shot at the other end and this came from Hojbjerg, catching the ball with power from 25 yards, but hitting the shot just the wrong side of Guaita’s right post.

Ndombele was replaced by Lo Celso after 67 minutes. Spurs were now clearly just trying to defend their one goal lead, in which they would fail. Milivojevic hit a free kick which was headed across the area to the feet of Schlupp, but the Palace man mis-cued his shot badly.

After a foul at the other end by Schlupp on Reguilon, Lo Celso hit a free kick and Eric Dier got a slight headed touch on the ball, but it passed outside the post. Lo Celso collided with Schlupp just outside the Spurs area. There was no foul, but both needed short-term attention. Benteke met a corner taken by Eze and headed just over the bar. After another corner Benteke headed straight at Hugo Lloris.

The equaliser when it came was not undeserved, and certainly on the cards. Aurier had committed a foul out on the right and Eze’s free kick drifted over attack and defence, surprising Hugo just in front of his goal. He couldn’t hold the ball and Schlupp enjoyed picking up the scraps to score. Now Spurs ventured forward again and tried to get the winner. Kane was fouled and took the free kick winning a corner with his deflected shot.

Ben Davies replaced Reguilon whilst Dele came on for Bergwijn, both of whom had worked their socks off up and down the line. After 85 minutes, Ben Davies hit an intended cross which surprised Guaita who got a touch with the ball hitting the bar. Aurier followed up with a shot/cross which was met by Kane and headed towards goal with Guaita saving again.

Former Spurs man Andros Townsend came on for Eze for a few minutes at the end. Spurs were camped in the Palace half now though. Dele was fouled by Kouyate and Dier decided to take the free kick. Eric has had a couple of failures recently, which have disappointed, but this was a super shot heading for Guaita’s top right corner. Somehow the keeper reached the ball, flying to his right and pushing it over with his upper hand.

After the Liverpool result against Fulham, we will definitely be fighting for top place on Wednesday!

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