Crystal Palace 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 match report: Roberto Soldado and Co show there can still be life after Gareth Bale

£26m Spanish signing gets Andre Villas-Boas' side off to winning start

Selhurst Park

Perhaps Crystal Palace were a little too grateful to be back in the Premier League, a little too respectful towards a team expected to challenge for a Champions League despite the apparently impending loss of the world’s first 100-million euro player.

At any rate Ian Holloway’s side, promoted by way of the play-offs and tipped for as quick a return to the Football League as Holloway’s highly entertaining Blackpool made a couple of years ago, concentrated on not being torn apart for nearly an hour, until Tottenham took the lead through a penalty by Roberto Soldado.

Then it was different. Holloway made a trio of substitutions and threw his men forward on a broad front. At last they made Hugo Lloris work.

But the Spurs goalkeeper stood firm and a double save from Kagisho Dikgacoi ensured a victory for quality.

Although Andre Villas-Boas’s men will have to do better than this on a regular basis if they are to inhabit the top four, the early season has the air of a phoney war. And no wonder, given that clubs of standing might lose star men before the window closes on September 2.

Villas-Boas’s reticence on the subject of whether Gareth Bale might go to Spain seemed to confirm that it is now a question of price, or how much Real Madrid are willing to pay up front.

That there can be life without Bale was obvious yesterday, especially when Soldado was on the move. A one-in-two striker with not only his every club but Spain, to whose squad he has returned after an absence of five years, he lived up to his reputation, impressing with almost every touch. Paulinho, meanwhile, emphasised his appetite for work in midfield. As for Nacer Chadli, it will be some time before he is ready to fill Bale’s boots, if that proves his destiny.

What they should all bear in mind is that English football seldom exudes such an atmosphere as this, with balmy weather and bonhomie radiating from the stadium’s slopes. It lasted beyond the final whistle, too, Palace being accorded a five-minute standing ovation as they made their weary way from centre circle to the tunnel at the Holmesdale Road end.

Losing sides don’t often get that and, if the crowd can maintain such form, they might be worth a few points before the campaign is out. Not that the Palace players didn’t deserve it. Mile Jedinak in particular; he played a captain’s part in central midfield and was last to reach the tiled sanctum on this beguiling day.

Although a drenching in late-summer sunshine can make even a brick outhouse beautiful, the South London rays struggled to work their magic on dear old Selhurst Park. It is a ground only a fan could love.

Yet the Palace faithful were only too happy to fill the place and the comedian Kevin Day spoke for all as he concluded his column in the

programme: ‘’Today we play one of England’s biggest clubs in a Premier league London derby and TV viewers the world over get to marvel at the Red and Blue Army. I am filled with love and pride.’’

As an occasion it was as delightful as that, a pleasure to share. As a match, it took too long to get going and there was especially little for the home support to cheer in the first half: a header from Aaron Wilbraham, rising to Owen Garvan’s free-kick, that went straight to Lloris at low speed was, believe it or not, their highlight.

Spurs were predictably slicker, even with Soldado, Paulinho, Chadli and eventually Etienne Capoue making Premier League debuts. Soldado, though saturation-policed by Palace defenders, managed to impress straight away with a selection of techniques.

He might have thought Dani Alves had joined him in switching from La Liga to the Premier, so quick and adventurous was Kyle Walker in advancing from right-back to link with Aaron Lennon, pinning back the left flank of the home team.

Lennon was less successful in serving Soldado and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who operated just behind the main striker, while Chadli remained peripheral on the left. But Sigurdsson did make himself a chance, turning and contriving a dipper that Julian Speroni did well to turn over the crossbar, before the resumption brought Spurs their goal.

It was no surprise that Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty, for Dean Moxey had his arms spread wide as Lennon tried a short cross. When the ball was deflected, the referee pointed to the spot, from which Soldado made a masterly job, finding the side netting as Speroni dived the wrong way.

It should have been 2-0 shortly afterwards, for Walker and Soldado expertly carved the Palace defence apart to set up Sigurdsson, who had Speroni at his mercy but missed the target from 10 yards.

Suddenly it was a livelier, more open match with Palace, stimulated by the triple substitution – Ian Johnny Williams, Marouane Chamakh and Kevin Phillips came on – a genuine threat for the first time. Dwight Gayle, chasing Chamakh’s pass, was thwarted by Lloris, who excelled himself in denying Digakcoi at the end.

Holloway seemed unsure afterwards whether he had been too cautious – ‘’if we’d started like we finished, we might have got absolutely hammered’’ – or his players had been daunted by the opposition. He did indicate that Palace would become more attack-minded at this should give them a better chance of at least competing at this level.

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Robin van Persie scores the third for Manchester United with a perfectly-guided header
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all