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Tottenham Hotspur survive early penalty in 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur turned around a woeful first half performance to go on and beat Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace 2-0 at White Hart Lane.
The Eagles’ Jason Puncheon blazed a penalty over the bar on seven minutes but, despite one of the worst first half performances in recent memory, Spurs took an early second half lead through Christian Eriksen, who latched on to Adebayor’s flicked header and rifled into the top left corner.
Substitute Jermain Defoe then made the win secure on 72 minutes with a goal in the week he agreed a February move to Toronto to play in the MLS.
The forward was found inside the box by Lennon before he evaded the tackles of two Palace defenders and fired past Speroni.
The win lifts Tottenham to fifth in the Premier League above fellow top-four chasers Liverpool and just one point behind fourth placed Everton.
Spurs ran out worthy winners in the end with a solid second half performance, but the way relegation contenders Palace dominated in the opening 45 minutes will doubtless be a worry for Tim Sherwood with sterner tests to come.
Tony Pulis’ side looked like the home team in the opening half and, while Palace were all over Tottenham with neat passing football and posing a constant threat, a static Spurs seemed unable to string more than a few passes together, leaving head coach Sherwood gesticulating wildly at his players on the touchline.
Palace were rewarded for their bright start when they won a penalty on seven minutes after Dembele bundled Chamakh over inside the box, but Jason Puncheon blazed wildly over the bar from the spot.
The let-off failed to inspire Spurs though, who continued to look uninspired as the half hour approached – Dembele and Walker in particular guilty of a host of wayward passes.
The Eagles on the other hand were rampant, with Cameron Jerome and Chamakh posing a constant danger upfront as Spurs were forced to fend off crosses and shots from all angles in front of an increasingly infuriated White Hart Lane crowd.
Puncheon’s deflected shot hit the side netting as the visitors continued to ramp up the pressure and Spurs again survived as the ball ping ponged around on the six yard line from the resultant corner.
Nabil Bentaleb was then centimetres away from a surprise opener when his curled shot from 25-yards hit the inside of the post past the beaten Speroni and bounced agonisingly back along the goal line to safety.
Spurs came out of the blocks in the second half after no doubt getting the hairdryer treatment from Sherwood in the break, and they quickly redeemed their first half performance as Eriksen got on the score sheet for the third time in four games.
Defoe replaced Soldado on 57 minutes and the forward, who this week agreed a permanent move to Toronto involving a loan back to Spurs before the start of the MLS season, fired just wide across goal with his first involvement.
Tottenham remained in control as Palace failed to conjure a response and Defoe’s strike sealed the three points with less than 20 minutes to play.
Substitute Adlene Guedioura almost snatched a late consolation for the visitors when his rifled effort from 30-yards whistled inches wide in stoppage time.
And Hugo Lloris produced a good reflex save to push a close range header over the bar in the dying seconds to ensure Spurs retained a clean sheet as they saw out the final minutes for the win.
Spurs: Lloris, Walker (Naughton, 47), Dawson, Chiriches, Rose, Lennon, Bentaleb, Dembele, Eriksen (Chadli, 75), Adebayor, Soldado (Defoe, 57). Subs: Holtby, Capoue, Friedel, Fryers.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Bolasie (Williams, 68), Ward, Jedinak, Puncheon (Guedioura, 81), Jerome (68), Chamakh. Subs: O'Keefe, Moxey, Price, Bannan.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
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