Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Crystal Palace: Five things we learned as Son’s strike keeps title hopes alive

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A second-half goal from Son Heung Min was enough for Tottenham Hotspur to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Wembley this afternoon and keep their title hopes alive.

The South Korea forward pounced on their opponent’s inability to clear their lines and finished with a exquisite, curling finish from just inside the area.

Spurs were full of confidence following their thrashing of Real Madrid in the Champions League midweek, but were made to work hard by Palace who caused them plenty of problems.

Tottenham keeper Paulo Gazzaniga made a string of impressive saves on his debut for the club and Palace were left to feel hard done by after a man-of-the-match performance from the shot-stopper.

Despite missing Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris due to injury, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino’s men closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to five points, at least for a couple of hours.

Here are five things we learned.

Tottenham win despite injury problems

Spurs may have beaten Real Madrid 3-1 in midweek – but it came at a price. Injuries to Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld threatened to derail their Premier League title hopes. However, the home side still had enough to secure the three points which perhaps is an indication as to how far they have come with the quality they now possess in terms of squad depth. Tottenham may have been missing three of their best players, but they still got the job done on a difficult afternoon.

Palace continue their goal scoring drought

Roy Hodgson’s men have now gone six away games without scoring a goal this season. Only one team have failed to net in their first six fixtures – Derby County in 2007/08, who went eight games which saw them eventually relegated with just 11 points. In fact, if you stretch back to the end of last season, Crystal Palace have now gone eight fixtures without scoring, totalling 646 minutes since Christian Benteke was on target against Liverpool in April.

Impressive display from Paulo Gazzaniga

Tottenham handed a debut to no.3 goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga who was making his first Premier League appearance in 687 days since playing for Southampton, against Spurs, in 2015. The 25-year-old was the busier of the two keepers on the pitch and had to make three smart saves as Palace piled the pressure on either side of half time. There was one indecisive moment as he misjudged the path of the ball to allow Wilfried Zaha to round him in the second half and shoot wide, but other than that he did well.

Much improved performance from Palace

Even though Crystal Palace lost the game, it was a decent team performance and they were unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Defensively, they looked solid, with Mamadou Sakho and Scott Dann particularly impressing at the heart of the back line. The Eagles soaked up the pressure with relative ease and kept Harry Kane quiet all afternoon. This was combined with great counter-attacking play, especially through the pace of Zaha, and on another day they could have had a famous victory.

Son enters the record books

The game’s decisive moment came when Son benefitted from a poor defensive clearance which fell to the forward’s feet and he curled the ball into the bottom corner. However, the 25-year-old made history in the process as he became the Premier League’s all-time highest scoring Asian player with 20 goals, edging him ahead of ex-Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung. Son could have scored again on another day but wasted a good chance when he sent Julian Speroni the wrong way, only to see his shot fire into the side netting.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Randall


Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.

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