Chris Armstrong headed home a Ruel Fox cross after a skilful flick-on by Jurgen Klinsmann, and Klinsmann himself scored with a delicate chip after being played into space. This made the score 3-0 following a 54th- minute looping Nicola Berti header. A late consolation goal, scored by Neil Shipperley on his return from a lengthy injury, was no real comfort to the home side.
Palace went into the game with by far the worst home record in the Premiership. They have not won a home League game at Selhurst Park all season, although they did beat their tenants, Wimbledon, 1-0 as the "away" team in September. The goal that day was scored by Attilio Lombardo, who yesterday played his first home game since taking over as manager.
Lombardo's counterpart, Christian Gross, started the day with an away record not much better than Palace's at home and both men, who have seen their sides plagued by injury problems and low morale, were under pressure to take the points from this season's biggest relegation six-pointer to date.
Palace started brightly with their new signing, the Yugoslavian midfielder Sasa Curcic, influential until he was substituted, clearly tired, in the second half. Curcic set up chances for the lively Matt Jansen and for his manager, Lombardo, but either their efforts were too weak or were pushed to safety by Ian Walker in the Tottenham goal. While he looked promising, it seems unlikely now that anything Curcic can do will save Palace from the drop, and one must wonder what kind of sadistic deity he worships when you recall that he called his move to London SE 25 "a dream" and "a gift from the gods". Palace, after showing some attacking spirit in the early stages, were quickly made to look very ordinary.
Spurs' earliest chance fell to Colin Calderwood after Fox broke down the right. Calderwood's header was off-target, but not as awry as a Klinsmann effort two minutes later when Moussa Saib set him up.
The visitors thought they should have had a penalty two minutes before the break, but Armstrong was awarded a yellow card instead for falling dramatically after a challenge by Valerien Ismael. Armstrong was disappointed again within a few minutes of the start of the second half, when he put the ball in the net with his hand. He could count himself lucky that the referee did not deem it deliberate or he would have been shown the red card.
In the absence of David Ginola, it was mainly due to his industry and that of Fox that Tottenham won. Klinsmann's role was often peripheral, but when it mattered, in the later stages, he was invaluable.
Gross said: "Through the 90 minutes we gave a good performance, especially when you look at the situation we are in." Lombardo said only that he would maintain his struggle until it was mathematically impossible for Palace to go down. The drop may come soon.