Tottenham edge past Crystal Palace without injured Dele Alli
Wilfried Zaha spurned a golden chance to give the Eagles the lead and it proved costly
Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min scores at Wembley Stadium. Photograph: PA
Tottenham 1 Crystal Palace 0
Son Heung-min spared Tottenham’s blushes as his second-half winner sealed a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
After blowing away Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, Spurs were almost brought crashing down to earth by a resilient Palace side at Wembley.
But Wilfried Zaha spurned a golden chance to give the Eagles the lead and it proved a costly miss as Son’s fourth goal of the season sealed victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
There were two surprise Spurs absentees as Dele Alli, who scored twice against Madrid, was left out due to a hamstring strain and Michel Vorm, due to replace the injured Hugo Lloris, was also missing with a knee problem.
Alli was also withdrawn from this month’s England squad to play Germany and Brazil and now faces a struggle to make the north London derby against Arsenal on November 18th.
Vorm’s omission meant a first start for Tottenham’s third goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, whose last competitive appearance came five months ago in the Spanish Second Division while on loan from Southampton at Rayo Vallecano.
For Palace, Mamadou Sakho and James McArthur came back in after overcoming hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.
Gazzaniga was called into action in the first two minutes and was not altogether convincing, choosing to meet Zaha’s cross with a dramatic star-jump that missed the ball but did just enough to put off the incoming Sakho.
Zaha posed a threat with his darting runs in behind and Palace were keen to make their presence felt in midfield. Harry Winks and Harry Kane both took whacks on their ankles but were able to hobble back on.
Spurs dominated possession but had few chances to show for it. Danny Rose, making his first league start since January, headed over when free at the back post while at the other end Gazzaniga got down well to push Scott Dann’s header wide.
Winks, presumably feeling the effect of his earlier knock, was replaced by Mousa Dembele at half-time but it was Palace that came out faster and Zaha should have put the visitors in front.
Aurier played the latest of a handful of loose passes and with Tottenham committed, Andros Townsend sent Zaha clear on the counter. Gazzaniga hesitated then rushed out, but got nowhere near the ball, allowing Zaha an open goal to hit from the angle. Instead he dragged it wide of the far post.
Palace should have been one up but seven minutes later they were one down.
Dann was at fault as his poor clearance landed straight at the feet of Son, who controlled before curling a finish left-footed inside the post.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Palace and Pochettino felt comfortable enough in the 77th minute to replace Kane with Fernando Llorente.
Son should have scored again with 10 minutes left when put through by Jan Vertonghen, but with only Julian Speroni to beat, he skewed wide of the near post.
There were some nervy final moments, with Townsend nipping in behind only to see his pull-back blocked as Tottenham held on for an unspectacular win.