Heung-min Son helps Tottenham Hotspur eventually break down Crystal Palace
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Crystal Palace 0
Tottenham Hotspur had Heung-min Son to thank after labouring to a 1-0 success at home to Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace.
In what was a fairly lacklustre first half, Spurs controlled the ball, but were unable to do much with it.
Midway through the second half, Son broke the deadlock with a fine, curling effort from 20 yards and though the north Londoners failed to build on their lead, the one goal proved to be enough.
Tottenham made five changes from the famous midweek win over Real Madrid in the Champions League, most of which were enforced.
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With first-choice stopper Hugo Lloris and understudy Michel Vorm both out injured, summer signing Paulo Gazzaniga was given his first start between the sticks.
Centre back Toby Alderweireld went off injured against Los Merengues, with his place in the starting XI taken by midfielder Moussa Sissoko, as Eric Dier dropped into defence.
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Wednesday’s two-goal hero Dele Alli was another to miss out through injury, with Son coming into the side.
The only unforced changes for Spurs were the full backs, with Serge Aurier and Danny Rose coming in for Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies respectively.
On his debut for Tottenham, Argentine stopper Gazzaniga was fortunate not to concede a penalty inside two minutes, clattering into Mamadou Sakho when trying to claim a Wilfried Zaha cross, though came nowhere near getting the ball.
From there, though, things seemed to quieten a little, with Spurs controlling possession, though not really testing Eagles stopper Speroni.
There were some moments of worry midway through the first half, with both Harry Winks and captain Harry Kane going down in pain after strong challenges, though both were able to continue.
In the 31st minute, a cross from the right by Aurier floated all the way to the back post where Rose was standing unmarked, but the left back could not get his header on target.
Three minutes later, it was Rose who crossed from the left, though his ball was blocked by Sakho.
However, Sakho’s intervention looped the ball towards Kane around 12 yards out, but the Spurs hitman lofted his header under pressure over the bar.
Despite dominating possession, Tottenham nearly fell behind nine minutes before the break when an Eagles corner from the right found Scott Dann, who nodded at goal, but Gazzaniga got down low to keep the header out, before Jan Vertonghen cleared.
The Belgian defender nearly scored what would have been the opener in the 41st minute when his effort from long range deflected off Dann and looked to wrong-foot Speroni.
The Palace keeper, though, was able to reach the ball in time to prevent it from crossing the line and keep the score level.
Three minutes later, Christian Eriksen looked to have played in Son, only for the Korean to put his left-foot shot wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Neither side could find a breakthrough before half time, and the hosts suffered a blow at the interval, with Winks forced off and replaced in midfield by Mousa Dembele.
Just three minutes into the second half, a misplaced pass from Aurier was intercepted by ex-Tottenham winger Andros Townsend, who raced through on goal.
Once inside the box, Townsend shot across goal, but Gazzaniga showed good reactions to push the ball behind for a corner that came to nothing.
Spurs almost gifted Palace the lead in the 57th minute when, following a free kick deep in the Eagles half, Aurier needlessly gave the ball away.
Yohan Cabaye set Zaha through one-on-one with Gazzaniga, who hesitated in coming out, allowing the Ivory Coast international to round the Argentine.
However, with an open goal to aim at, Zaha curled his effort wide of the goal, much to the relief of Spurs.
The Tottenham goal was leading something of a charmed life, with Gazzaniga called into action two minutes later to deny Luka Milivojevic following a corner.
Somewhat against the run of play, Spurs took the lead in the 64th minute through Son.
After a period of pressure near the Palace goal, the ball found its way to the South Korean attacker on the edge of the box.
Having taken one touch to set himself, Son then curled his effort past an outstretched Speroni with his left foot to give the hosts the initiative.
Despite taking the lead, Tottenham were still having to deal with plenty of Palace counter-attacks as Roy Hodgson’s charges looked for a route back into the match.
With eight minutes remaining in the match, Son had a chance to put the game to bed after being played in Vertonghen and only Speroni to beat.
The 25-year-old gave the Eagles stopper the eyes, sending Speroni the wrong way, but also managed to send the ball wide of the posts.
With four minutes left in the match, an Eriksen corner from the right provided Spurs with another chance to get a second, but defender Davinson Sanchez nodded off target from six yards.
Sanchez was at his best at the over end in the final minute of normal time, blocking a Townsend ball from the right after Palace broke quickly.
That proved to be the last effort on goal for either side as Spurs held on to win, though it is unlikely to be a game that will live long in the memory of anyone in attendance.
Spurs (3-4-2-1): Gazzaniga; Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen; Aurier, Winks (Dembele 46), Sissoko, Rose (Davies 90+2); Eriksen, Son; Kane (Llorente 77).
Subs: Whiteman (GK), Trippier, Nkoudou, Foyth.
Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Fosu-Mensah, Dann, Sakho, Ward (Sako 76); Loftus-Cheek, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Zaha, Townsend.
Subs: Hennessy (GK), Tomkins, McArthur, Souare, Puncheon, Riedewald.
Referee: Kevin Friend