Bale and Kane on target as Spurs see off Crystal Palace
José Mourinho’s side have eyes on a Champions League spot as resurgence continues
Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale scores their side’s second goal of the game during the Premier League win over Crystal Palace at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Photo: Julian Finney/PA Wire
Tottenham Hotspur 4 Crystal Palace 1
The connection between Harry Kane and Gareth Bale has injected fresh life into Tottenham’s season. With two elite forwards operating on the same wavelength, José Mourinho has every reason to believe that his side can qualify for the Champions League. The outlook has changed for Spurs. There is no need for Mourinho to err on the side of caution when Kane and Bale are working in tandem and obliterating opposition defences.
Tottenham’s supporters must have rejoiced as two of the greatest players in their club’s history linked up to destroy Crystal Palace. It was a compelling case for Mourinho to be more adventurous on a more regular basis. Kane was playmaker and a finisher, creating both of Bale’s goals before chipping in with two clinical strikes.
Bale and Kane made sure that Spurs, who are up to sixth and two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, found a way through Palace’s low block. Although Dele Alli was on the bench after impressing in last Thursday’s win over Fulham, Spurs were rampant. Lucas Moura impressed in the No 10 position and although Tanguy Ndombele was rested in midfield, meaning that there was an occasional lack of thrust from Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, the hosts dominated throughout.
Palace, who stuck with the template from their goalless draws with Fulham and Manchester United, had set out to absorb pressure. Rather than offering any surprises, the visitors simply relied on plenty of organisation and workrate in their old-fashioned 4-4-2 as they settled in for another evening of trying to confound those calculating the expected goals statistics, just as they had when they beat Brighton with barely any possession.
The pattern of play meant that Palace were at their most vulnerable when they had the ball. Uncomfortable when Spurs exerted a high press, they conceded an awful goal after tying themselves in knots in the 25th minute. Luka Milivojevic was at fault, dithering near his own area. Moura dispossessed the midfielder and the ball broke to Kane, who drove clear before crossing for Bale to score from close range.
Starting for the fourth consecutive game, Bale was a constant threat. The winger almost had an early assist when he cut inside from the right before crossing for Son Heung-min, who headed straight at Vicente Guaita, and it should have been 2-0 when another of his centres found Sergio Reguilón, who volleyed wide after bursting forward from left-back.
Reguilón’s miss gave Mourinho cause for concern. Once again Spurs were struggling to build on a 1-0 lead. Gradually Palace began to gain a foothold. After offering nothing as an attacking force for much of the opening period, they pushed Spurs back before equalising in added time, Milivojevic atoning for his error by crossing for Christian Benteke, who crept in front of Toby Alderweireld before planting a header beyond Hugo Lloris.
It was a goal that demonstrated why Mourinho, who stuck with a centre-back pairing of Alderweireld and Davinson Sánchez, struggles to trust his defence. Palace had scored out of nothing and were sufficiently emboldened to make a positive change during the break, removing the disappointing Eberechi Eze for Wilfried Zaha, who was available after shaking off a hamstring injury.
Yet there was barely time for Zaha to have a touch before Bale took charge, driving inside from the right in the 49th minute and spraying the ball out to Reguilón. Always a willing outlet, the Spaniard took a touch before sending a deep cross to the far post. The danger looked minimal but Kane was more alert than Palace’s defenders and headed the ball back into the six-yard box for Bale, who was perfectly placed to nod past Guaita.
Kane swiftly followed his 13th assist in the league this season with more inspiration three minutes later. Once again Palace did not appear to be in any significant danger when Bale sent a pass down the right for Matt Doherty. But when the right-back played a simple pass back to Kane, the forward surprised Palace by using the inside of his right foot to whip a first-time shot towards the far corner from 20 yards, with Guaita completely powerless as the ball soared high to his left.
Although Zaha would strike a post with a low effort, Palace were beaten.
Erik Lamela came on for Bale and helped create the fourth with a lovely chip to Son, who presented Kane with a tap-in. The goal survived a VAR review for offside and Mourinho could celebrate an emphatic win. – Guardian