Spurs envy the invention of Routledge

Crystal Palace 3 - Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Online

There's nothing quite as satisfying as squaring up to an old boss and Iain Dowie's message to his relegation rival Harry Redknapp was straight between the eyes after an afternoon when the fighters belittled the flighty. "You can tell them, if we're going down, we'll be going down kicking and screaming," the Crystal Palace manager said. "We'll be like the spoilt child. Someone will have to drag us down."

There's nothing quite as satisfying as squaring up to an old boss and Iain Dowie's message to his relegation rival Harry Redknapp was straight between the eyes after an afternoon when the fighters belittled the flighty. "You can tell them, if we're going down, we'll be going down kicking and screaming," the Crystal Palace manager said. "We'll be like the spoilt child. Someone will have to drag us down."

And the Southampton manager had better believe it because Dowie had just dragged Spurs down, way down in fact, from the pedestal they were starting to feel comfortable on. Three goals from the outskirts of nowhere saw to that, in a 10-minute spell in the second half that said everything about Palace's bottle and Tottenham's ability to glass themselves in the face.

Indeed, on days like this Europe seems as far away as ever for a Spurs side that is crying out loud and clear for the wide-man creativity of Wayne Routledge. Palace and Spurs were deep in negotiations last night to conclude this most drawn-out of transfers and Martin Jol will be keener than ever to grab hold of the 20-year-old.

The Dutchman will also be eager that Freddie Kanouté returns soon from injury because he cannot envisage where his next goal is coming from, which is disconcerting seeing as his unit have obviously forgotten the art of keeping a clean sheet after four from the previous five League games before yesterday's aberration.

"We really miss a big man up front. We miss Freddie terribly," he said, pointing to the fact that Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane are just too small to play alongside each other. "We need someone to hold that ball up."

What he would give for Andy Johnson, the Palace striker who can do all that and more and whose 14th goal of the season yesterday was well timed, coming in front of the watching England manager. "Frankly, I don't know what else Andy has to do to get that call-up," said Dowie when asked whether Sven Goran Eriksson should include the highest English scorer in the Premiership in his squad for the friendly with Holland. "AJ torments people in the danger area. He never lacks energy or zip. Once again he was magnificent today."

He was just as gushing of the rest of his men, calling it "a performance of fantastic courage". And, in truth, that was about all it was, because for an hour the only courage displayed was by those poor dolts for still watching it. But sometimes from mediocrity, the spectacular arises and it doesn't get much more spectacular in south-east London than Palace scoring three goals in 10 minutes against the aristocrats from north London.

That had seemed unlikely during a first half that was only memorable for the chorus of disapproval that greeted Routledge's first touch. The low-flying Eagles faithful had come here with a mission and one mission only: win or lose they were on the boos. Surreal it might have been - Routledge running at Spurs, Selhurst Park hissing - but at least it served to liven up 45 minutes so dull it made ditch water look like the Northern Lights.

Dean Marney went close for Spurs with a flashing left-foot strike from 20 yards that Gabor Kiraly did well to see yet alone save in the 44th minute, but up until then all the home side had to reflect on was a Danny Granville free-kick that barely stretched Paul Robinson to his right.

It could only get better, though Selhurst Park hadn't reckoned on Tottenham's knack of self-imploding. The combustion began in the 66th minute when the impressive Mikele Leigertwood volleyed home the cross of the equally impressive Tom Soares to break what had seemed the deadest of locks.

The door thus swung open and Spurs scampered out in all directions. "[Noureddine] Naybet ended up in midfield, [Noe] Paramot played inside instead of outside and Marney was outside instead of in," said a clearly exasperated Jol. He wasn't wrong. Granville capitalised on the chaos four minutes later when turning in the delightful cross of the momentarily forgiven Routledge and, then in the 76th minute, Johnson converted the penalty his run had deserved before being crudely interrupted by Pedro Mendes.

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