Kane to Spurs' rescue
England striker scores late winner to help Pochettino's men overcome Palace
Harry Kane struck late to secure Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace yesterday, as Mauricio Pochettino's side kept up their chase for a top-four spot.
|(Harry Kane 88)|
Spurs appeared set for disappointment after struggling to break down a Crystal Palace fighting to move clear of the relegation places.
But Kane finally found the breakthrough on 88 minutes, meeting Christian Eriksen's corner at the far post and directing a header past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey who should have done better after getting a firm hand to the ball.
Pochettino made 10 changes to the side that drew with Rochdale in the FA Cup seven days previously, but the more significant fact was that his line-up showed just one change to the team that drew at Juventus in the Champions League.
The withdrawal of centre back Jan Vertonghen due to a knock in training the day before the game meant Eric Dier partnered Davinson Sanchez in central defence in an otherwise familiar Spurs line-up.
By contrast, Roy Hodgson's hand was forced by the absence of 12 senior players, leaving the Crystal Palace boss with few options.
The makeshift nature of the Palace line-up was reflected in a disjointed start that could have seen Tottenham three up inside 16 minutes had the visitors capitalised on defensive errors.
Ben Davies should have done better after Andros Townsend unexpectedly failed to clear Eriksen's free-kick although the left back insisted he had a strong claim for a penalty after colliding with Hennessey.
Two minutes later, an even better opportunity fell to Kane who was uncharacteristically wasteful when Patrick van Aanholt sliced a clearance into the forward's path.
Kane was only eight metres out but placed his shot too close to Hennessey who diverted the effort over the bar.
A third Palace error allowed Dele Alli to evade the offside trap and collect Eriksen's floated ball over the top but the England midfielder rushed his attempt to direct a header over the onrushing Hennessey.
It seemed only a matter of time before Palace's defence would be unpicked and Timothy Fosu-Mensah was fortunate an offside flag meant his clear foul on Kane inside the home area went unpunished.
GROWING IN CONFIDENCE
But Hodgson's side grew in confidence and began to cut out the mistakes.
They offered little going forward, but by getting bodies behind the ball, the home side halted a succession of Tottenham attacking moves, leaving Kane frustrated at the lack of opportunities to come his way.
A sliced shot that flew high and wide by Kane early in the second half confirmed things were not going the visitors' way.
And having withstood the early pressure, Palace began to appear increasingly threatening on the counter-attack.
Spurs' frustration was compounded when a third penalty appeal was rejected, this time after Alli went to ground following a clumsy challenge by van Aanholt, before relief came in the form of Kane's header - the striker's 35th goal of the season. - AFP