Tottenham Hotspur went to South London to take on the floundering Eagles of Crystal Palace, who hadn't scored a goal since before the New Year. In a spirited match that saw just about everything possible, Spurs locked up three points with a 3-1 victory.
The first chance of the match went to Crystal Palace in the second minute. Eric Dier whiffed on a clearance that allowed Wilfred Zaha to attack in possession. Danny Rose tried to wrestle the ball away from Zaha, but fouled him instead. The ensuing free kick from 22 yards out presented danger, but thankfully Jason Puncheon skied it over the crossbar.
Spurs took over possession after that, controlling the pace of the match though were quite loose with their passing. The best opportunity up until the 15th minute was Harry Kane getting the ball to the right of Hennessey, taking a rip from a near impossible angle and forcing the save. The corner kick following the chance was skied over everyone.
Palace received a gift of a chance in the 21st minute when Jan Vertonghen passed back to Hugo Lloris. Hugo took a touch and attempted to play it past a pressing Zaha, but the Frenchman barely made contact and passed it right to the Palace winger. Jan recovered quickly and put himself between the goal and Zaha, forcing a rushed cross that was deflected. Christian Eriksen pounced on it and cleared the ball away to keep the match scoreless.
The commentator's curse struck in the 30th minute. After hearing that Crystal Palace had gone eight match hours without scoring a goal (December 19, 2015 was their last goal), a poor attempt to clear the ball fell to Puncheon, who fed Zaha on the right wing. Zaha crossed the ball into the center and found the foot of Jan Vertonghen, whose attempt to clear the ball out the back instead went into the net for an own goal. Palace had broken their scoreless streak to make 1-0.
Spurs turned up the pressing after conceding the goal. Toby Alderweireld pressed up with the ball and, after clowning Yohan Cabaye on a subtle fake, took a rip towards the far post. Harry Kane, making a late run, slid in to try and punch the ball in, but was not quick enough to get to the ball, resulting in a goal kick.
An amazing chance to equalize came in the 39th minute. Christian Eriksen crossed the ball on an inswing attempt far post, finding an open Danny Rose making a run. Rose took a volley attempt on the edge of the six yard box that should have been a goal, but Wayne Hennessey was up to the challenge and managed to save the near-point blank attempt to keep the lead in tact for the Eagles. That is how the half ended with the home side up 1-0.
The second half started off with a near-golazo. Following a shout for a hand ball, Eriksen found a yard of space and fired a shot for the far top corner. It looked good on the broadcast, but the ball didn't dip in time and went just over the crossbar.
Spurs finally got their equalizer in the 63rd minute. Nacer Chadli, who had just come on for Eric Dier, chipped a high ball in front of the net. Harry Kane timed his jump perfectly and headed the ball back across the goal and found the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Palace came roaring back not long after. In the 68th minute, after a cross that fell to nobody, Wilfried Zaha collected the ball about 15 yards out and fired a shot towards the far post. Hugo was up to the challenge, making a spectacular save to his right to preserve the 1-1 scoreline. Palace had another chance on the corner kick following the chance on a Puncheon shot and only found the back of Toby Alderweireld. During this run of play, Jan Vertonghen took a possible flagrant elbow from Connor Wickham and, in the process, injured his knee. The Belgian Vice-Captain had to come off for Kevin Wimmer.
Crystal Palace somehow didn't equalize in the 80th minute. After Kieran Trippier conceded a foul outside the box that resulted in a booking, the Eagles had two excellent attempts to put the ball in the net. Inexplicably, both attempts went off the crossbar and Spurs managed to survive without conceding the go-ahead goal.
Now, I hope you all give me a chance to break the fourth wall here. I have sat here for a good five minutes after the match ended figuring out how to word the go-ahead goal. I will try, but I don't think I can do it justice. In the 84th minute, Harry Kane fired a long cross to the opposite side of the goal to Christian Eriksen. The Danish International flipped the ball up to Dele Alli, who juggled once....then flipped it over his own body...and then volleyed the ball into the net for possibly the greatest goal I have ever seen in my life. The writers room exploded and the only comparison we can make is Zidane's goal in the Champions' League final against Bayer Leverkusen. Dare I say....this goal was better. Spurs had their go-ahead goal with about ten minutes to kill off.
After a couple of tense moments, Nacer Chadli finally found a way to put the match away in the 95th minute. The Belgian came free on the left wing, clowned Jedinak for about the 11th time, and ripped a curler from 25 yards out to make the score 3-1. That's how it would end at Selhurst Park.
THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH
- Dele Alli. What can you say? That's the best goal I've ever seen since I started to watch this sport.
- Danny Rose was not good in the first half. Wilfried Zaha made him look silly on several occasions. That being said, he was much better in the second half and drew some key fouls.
- The Chadli for Dier sub was an eyebrow-raiser when it happened, but we should realize that Poch knows what he's doing. Chadli spent the better part of the second half making Jedinak look like a pub league player.
- Harry Kane scored again! Nothing new here.
- Hugo was brilliant. There was zero he could do on the own goal, but he was incredible on several occasions in the second half.
- Let's all hope that Vertonghen's injury isn't serious. Also, Connor Wickham sucks.
- Building on that, the officiating was atrocious. Very inconsistent calls and I still do not know how Jedinak didn't get sent off. Same goes for Wickham with his elbow.
- Spurs get a much needed three points after United fell flat on their faces against Southampton.