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Premier League

Tottenham 2 Crystal Palace 0 match report: Departing Jermain Defoe adds the gloss

Striker, who will soon move to Toronto, comes off the bench to put the game out of Palace’s sight

The young apprentice Tim Sherwood had the better of another experienced old sorcerer in Tony Pulis and it may well have been that his half-time talk contributed significantly. Whatever was said by Sherwood and his whole bus garage full of coaches, Tottenham turned the game round after a first half in which a missed penalty was only one of the opportunities that Crystal Palace spurned.

Sherwood even saw two of his substitutes play a key role in the goals, the second coming from Jermain Defoe in the week his move to Toronto was confirmed. It will not take place until the end of next month, which would seem just as well given the lassitude of a tired looking Roberto Soldado. Emmanuel Adabayor was better, rousing himself like so many team-mates – though not Soldado – in a much better second half, when the 19 year-old Nabil Bentaleb, given his chance recently by Sherwood, continued to impress and Aaron Lennon and Danny Rose finally threatened down the flanks.

Until then Palace had been the better side and Pulis’s face was a picture of frustration as Jason Puncheon leant back and casually hooked an early penalty way over the bar. He knew that there might not be many more chances for the division’s lowest scoring side.


“The results have concertinaed everyone closer together,” Pulis said. “I felt we played really well first half and I was disappointed not to come in with a lead. At times we dominated the game and we played some good football.”

Sherwood admitted that he had been forced to spell out a few harsh truths at the interval. “I’ll always take desire over ability all day long,” he said afterwards. “It’s about showing character when you’re not having it your own way. We were taken a little bit by surprise by Palace but in the second half we matched them for desire and effort and our quality shone through.”

On the opening day of season Ian Holloway had been furious about the handball decision that gave Spurs their winning penalty at Selhurst Park. Here, with both sides under new management, Palace were the beneficiaries of an equally generous decision in only the seventh minute. Mousa Dembélé was adjudged to have fouled Chamakh as they chased a pass from Damien Delaney.

Puncheon’s penalty had some talking of the worst from the spot this season and others making comparison to Chris Waddle’s in the 19990 World Cup semi-final. At least Waddle’s was struck with some venom; Puncheon could hardly have been more casual, Pulis claiming that he changed his mind about where to put it in the run-up.

Cameron Jerome hit a shot that bounced just in front of Hugo Lloris and Chamakh might have done better from a right-wing corner before Bentaleb offered some hope amid growing rumblings from the home crowd; his curled effort from 25 yards hit the inside of a post and bounced across goal.

The improvement in the second half was striking. Early on, Rose and Soldado set up a chance for Christian Eriksen, who seemed to have delayed his shot too long, then had it deflected for a corner. Five minutes into the half he was more urgent in latching onto a long ball forward by the substitute Kyle Naughton that Adebayor did well to flick on. Eriksen shot hard and fast and relief flowed round the ground.

Defoe, seeking a first League goal of the season to add to nine in other competitions, replaced Soldado and immediately drove a left-footed shot just past the far post. In the 72nd minute, he was given onside in picking up Lennon’s pass and evaded the left-back Jonathan Parr to shoot high into the net.

Palace, now subdued, made three changes but offered nothing more until added time when from a series of corners Mile Jedinak and Chamakh, twice, put headers off-target.

“I need to get a couple of players in and we have irons in the fire,” Pulis said.


Tottenham (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker (Naughton,47), Dawson, Chiriches. Rose; Lennon, Bentaleb, Dembélé, Eriksen (Chadli,75); Adebayor, Soldado (Defoe, 56).

Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Speroni; Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr; Puncheon (Guedioura,81), Ward, Jedinak, Bolasie (Williams, 68); Chamakh; Jerome (Gayle, 68).

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Man of the match: Bentaleb (Tottenham)

Match rating: 6/10