An explosive final quarter of an hour from Crystal Palace should have been enough for them to return to south London with three well-earned points.
Jason Puncheon smacked the underside of the bar with a venomous drive, then barely 20 seconds later thumped the ball into the net, but from an offside position. Joe Ledley fired a sensational chance over the bar, and a bending shot from Yannick Bolasie drew a remarkable save from Hugo Lloris.
It was, in essence, a 15-minute match, which Tottenham too had their chance to steal in the final minutes, but a strike from a turning Paulinho was blocked just in front of the line.
Afterwards Neil Warnock, Palace’s manager, said: “I’m lost for words. I can’t understand how we’ve not won. The way we played, we deserved the points. The lads played some good stuff and it took a great goalkeeping performance to stop us getting the three points.
“We played some good stuff, created havoc at times and always looked a threat. I don’t know how many times I put my head in my hands today as I thought we’d scored that many.
“Wilfried [Zaha] and Bolasie were brilliant, but my man of the man was [Marouane] Chamakh – he covered every blade of grass.”
On an icy-cold afternoon, Tottenham’s expensively assembled parts yet again offered far less value than the sums spent on acquiring them. Palace were resolute at the back and showed real intensity going forward, but could not find the finishing touch their efforts deserved.
Bolasie was a persistent menace to Tottenham’s right-back, Eric Dier, whose afternoon began with him requiring treatment from the physio after just three minutes and never got any better.
For Tottenham, it was an afternoon to forget. The man of so many recent moments at the Lane, Harry Kane, was anonymous on this occasion. Last week, the crowd constantly reminded him that he was “one of our own”. This week, he might as well have been on his holidays.
Roberto Soldado’s rare goal last week now looks just that. A rare goal. Twenty minutes in to the second half the ball broke to him inside the box at the kind of angle from which even the most mediocre strikers regularly fire into the back of the net without a second thought. He smashed it wide. In the first half, he leapt well for a header but diverted the ball so high and wide over the right-hand post that it disguised how decent a chance it had been.
Most of Tottenham’s best moves this season have revolved around the anarchic pace of Aaron Lennon. Without him they lack that element of causing chaos among the opposition defence, and offer far less threat. But Lennon came on for only the last 10 minutes yesterday.
A week ago Tottenham looked like a team on the move as they played with pace, dynamism and intensity to demoralise a visiting Everton side who had started brightly. But after that impressive 2-1 win they went off to Stamford Bridge and were battered 3-0 by a Chelsea team who were without their principal battering ram, Diego Costa.
Mauricio Pochettino believes his players are slowly espousing his philosophy and expressing his ideas on the pitch, but the central tenet of that philosophy is to press up the pitch, and so far this season his team have shown little sign that they are capable of doing that consistently.
The Spurs manager said: “It wasn’t an easy game, Palace played well. We are not very fresh, because it was the third game in six days. Maybe this game is one where we need to get the three points, but in the end I think the result was fair. We have a lack of freshness but we tried, we tried to win the game.”
Tottenham: (4-4-2) Lloris; Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Mason (Paulinho, 66), Bentaleb, Lamela (Chadli, h-t), Eriksen; Kane, Soldado (Lennon, 83).
Crystal Palace: (4-2-3-1) Speroni; Kelly, Dann, Hangeland, Ward; Jedinak, McArthur; Zaha (Puncheon, 66), Ledley, Bolasie; Chamakh.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Man of the match: Bolasie (Crystal Palace)
Match rating: 5/10
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