Crystal Palace 0 Tottenham 1: Christian Eriksen keeps Spurs' title hopes alive with 25-yard stunner

Jason Burt
Christian Eriksen breaks the deadlock - Rex Features

This is one where Tottenham had to dig deep, a precious eighth successive victory that kept the Premier League title race alive as they again reduced Chelsea’s lead back down to four points.

“We’re coming for you,” sang the Spurs supporters and, with five games to go, the pursuit is still on.

Next up for Spurs are Arsenal but, also next Sunday, Chelsea travel to Everton for what appears to be the toughest of their remaining fixtures. That game finishes before Spurs kick off in what could be an epic final north London derby at White Hart Lane, especially if there is a chance to cut Chelsea’s lead even further.

On Wednesday night they were indebted to a long-range goal from Christian Eriksen and it was going to take something arresting to beat this Crystal Palace side who are brimming with confidence and obduracy. This was as much about character and courage and a desire to keep going when not playing particularly well, and Spurs showed it.

Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Spurs (Christian Eriksen, 78 min)

Before kick off, the question was: how much had that FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, followed by the league leaders winning at home to Southampton, psychologically affected Spurs?

The answer seemed apparent in the first minute when they kept the ball almost for the whole of that minute – bar a Wilfried Zaha interception that only returned the ball to them – with Harry Kane’s shot from an eventual corner blocked.

But Palace’s tails are up. Confidence is high. Wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool and six victories in eight games going into this dictated that, and they soon threatened with Zaha turning and twisting, a low cross flashed across the Spurs penalty area, James McArthur mis-kicking when well-placed and then finally Andros Townsend teeing up Christian Benteke. With a clear sight of goal his shot lacked power and was easily held by Hugo Lloris. 

Palace pressed high. They wanted to unsettle Spurs, and did, prevent them from bringing the ball out from the back and McArthur and Jason Puncheon swarmed around Mousa Dembele, stealing the ball away, while Kyle Walker struck a bizarre cross-field pass that almost went out for a corner.

Mousa Dembele battles with James McArthur Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Was that nerves? It did not appear so. But the scale of Spurs’ task was becoming apparent. Palace were being urged, ever more, by their manager Sam Allardyce to get the ball forward quickly and try to unsettle their opponents, stop them gaining any kind of rhythm. It became even more frantic, the ball pinging around before a chance opened up for Walker who sliced wildly over the cross-bar from Mamadou Sakho’s headed clearance.

Spurs needed to speed it up. Manager Mauricio Pochettino was not impressed, standing arms folded, and Victor Wanyama was booked for a lunge at Luka Miliojevic, after losing the ball through a heavy touch, as another promising attack broke down.

Spurs switched systems. Eric Dier pushed into midfield, Dembele further forward. It was a 4-2-3-1 to match-up Palace and try and wrestle further control, with Wayne Hennessey then saving smartly from Eriksen after the Dane’s cross rebounded back to him.

Wanyama was then fortunate not to be dismissed as he brought down Townsend. Referee Jon Moss thought about it but, to the midfielder’s evident relief, issued a warning instead, before Townsend collected Sakho’s pass, was caught by Toby Alderweireld but carried on only to fire a rising shot over from the edge of the area.

Mamadou Sakho is stretchered off Credit: PA

It remained edgy, unclear and swung from end to end with Allardyce appearing the more satisfied, even if it appeared that, gradually, Spurs were gaining more meaningful possession.

However, they were struggling to break Palace down with a flick by Kane running marginally behind Dele Alli inside the area. At the half-time whistle, Pochettino jogged down the touchline.

Sixty-six per cent of possession away from home demanded more product and there was a double substitution. On came Heung-Min Son and Moussa Sissoko in an effort to get in behind Palace in a game they had to win, although there was further frustration when Walker was booked for barging over Zaha. Finally there was a chance for Alli, who had been deprived of the ball, but he shot wide following a strong run by Kane.

There was then deep concern for Palace. Sakho had landed awkwardly, challenging Kane, and appeared to damage his knee, twisting. As the stretcher came on, Allardyce – already without James Tomkins and Scott Dann – shook his head slowly.

Tottenham celebrate tacking the lead Credit: AFP

Given Sakho’s outstanding form it was a big blow, although his replacement, Damien Delaney, blocked shots from Eriksen and Kane before Alli volleyed low, across goal, and just wide from Walker’s cross. He should have scored and soon after forced a save from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey with a curling shot on the turn. Spurs, finally, were turning the screw.

They were camped in Palace’s half, turning the ball over quicker and quicker as their urgency began to rise. Kane got in behind and attempted to cut the ball back to Alli but there was yet another block, conceding a corner, which was met by Dier who headed over.

It was becoming even more frantic with the ball rebounding around and the commitment ferocious. It was tense and intense and felt like, maybe, just one goal would settle it if one could be claimed.

And Eriksen did just that. The ball was laid up to him by Kane with the midfielder winding up for a powerful right-foot shot from 25 yards that bounced across Hennessey, caught by surprise, and flew into the far corner of the net. After all the pressure it had come out of the blue and they rode out the seven minutes of injury-time to preserve the points.

9:56PM

As things stand...

This is Spurs' eighth Premier League win in a row and means the table looks like this...

9:55PM

Time on ball (at full time)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 9:55PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 9:54PM

FULL-TIME: Palace 0 Tottenham 1

A crucial win for Spurs that restores the gap between themselves and Chelsea to four points. It may not have been pretty, but with three precious points in the bank, Pochettino will not care a jot.

9:52PM

90+5 min

Spurs are doing that old keep-the-ball-in-the-corner trick, which is boring and never works.

Substitution as Dele Alli comes off for Trippier.

9:50PM

90+3 min

Good ball from Puncheon almost finds Zaha in his stride but Walker does well to get a toe in and then clear.

9:48PM

90+1 min

Still a long way to go until final whistle but man of the match has gone to Eriksen.

9:47PM

90 min

Seven minutes of stoppage time!!

9:43PM

85 min - CHANCE TOTTENHAM

Three corners in quick succession for Tottenham and a decent little swivel from Alderweireld in the middle of the Palace box almost results in a second goal, but he pulls his shot wide. Alderweireld appeals that he was pulled down but the referee says no and points for a goal kick.

9:41PM

83 min

Tottenham's tail is up after that goal as they pin Palace deep inside their own half, picking up corner after corner.

9:37PM

78 min - Palace 0 Tottenham 1 (Eriksen)

With seemingly no route to goal and Palace bringing every man back behind the ball, Eriksen receives the ball 25 yards out, looks up to see nobody free so has a pop and rifles the ball into the bottom corner.

9:35PM

GOAL!

0-1. Christian Eriksen has broken the deadlock for Spurs.

Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Spurs (Christian Eriksen, 78 min) 9:33PM

Time on ball (60 - 75 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 9:31PM

74 min

Boos ring out as Sissoko body-checks Puncheon, resulting in a free-kick. Palace fans demand a card but the referee says no.

9:30PM

One-way traffic at Selhurst Park

It's been all Spurs, with the visitors racking up 15 shots so far - Crystal Palace have managed just five in reply.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs shots on goal 9:30PM

72 min

Spurs open up the Palace defence as Walker picks out Eriksen whose slide pass feeds Kane running into the box but his shot is blocked by Kelly.

9:25PM

68 min

Every Palace player is back defending so when they do break down the Tottenham attacks it results in a long, hopeful hoof forward to nobody in particular. It's all one-way traffic at the moment.

9:22PM

64 min

The game is threatening to break open as Spurs attack from the back with some lovely one-touch football that eventually finds Walker on the edge of the box, but his attempt at a curler inside the far post fails to find enough curl.

9:19PM

62 min

Palace substitution as Cabaye comes on for McArthur.

9:19PM

61 min

Lovely-looking ball over the top from Eriksen, with a touch of fade, almost picks out a run into the box from Dele Alli but instead nestles into the relieved arms of Hennessey.

9:17PM

Time on ball (45 - 60 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 9:16PM

59 min

Yellow card for Kane as he lunges in late on Puncheon. Contact looks minimal.

9:16PM

57 min - CHANCE TOTTENHAM

Nice interchange passing from Tottenham opens up space for Walker on the right and he has all the time in the world to pick his cross, it's pinpoint for Dele Alli but Kelly does just enough to put off the Spurs forward and the ball slices of his boot and wide from about two yards out. What. A. Chance.

9:13PM

55 min

Huge round of applause from the Palace fans for Sakho as he is eventually carried off and Delaney takes his place on the field.

9:12PM

54 min

Sakho is still not on the stretcher. The medics are taking their time.

9:10PM

52 min

In trying to bring Kane down, Sahko looks like he might have injured himself badly. He stretched and looked to have caught his studs in the turf, twisting his knee. This will be a worry for Allardyce, who has a shortage of centre-backs. Here comes the stretcher.

9:08PM

50 min

Zaha is pleading with the referee as Tottenham give the ball away, Zaha's foot-over leaves his marker leaden-footed and Sissoko is left with no choice but to body block him.

9:06PM

48 min 

Vital interception from Kelly as Dele Alli tries to whip in an inviting ball across the face of goal that is only prevented from finding Kane by a stabbed-out foot.

9:04PM

47 min

Sublime touch from Zaha as he stuns the ball instantly, turns and sets off and only a thuggish shoulder-barge from Walker that sends the winger into the advertising is able to stop him. Yellow card for Walker.

9:02PM

45 min

The second half is underway!

9:01PM

Spurs substitutions...

Son for Dembele and Sissoko for Wanyama.

8:57PM

As things stand...

If the match was to stay as it is (please God no), here is how the table would look...

8:47PM

HALF-TIME: Crystal Palace 0 Tottenham 0

Well that was disappointing! Palace had the better of the chances but all in all, not a good half of football. Scrappy.

8:47PM

Time on ball (first half)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 8:47PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 8:44PM

42 min

Getting the ball out wide to Walker has got to be the way forward for Spurs, even if his delivery has been poor so far. It's the only time in this match they have managed to get in behind the Palace back line.

8:40PM

The shot count is similar

Crystal Palace and Spurs are evenly matched in attack so far - the vistors have fired in six shots to the hosts' four.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs shots on goal 8:40PM

37 min

Zaha is drawing a lot of free-kicks and Dembele is the latest to fall foul of the live-wire winger as he concedes a set-piece in the far corner. Townsend whips the ball in and it is poorly dealt with by the Tottenham defence, dropping inside the box to feet and fortuitously toe-poked away by Davies.

8:36PM

34 min

Wanyama is lucky not to be sent off! The midfielder recklessly dives in on Townsend, considering he's already on a yellow, and doesn't appear to get the ball but referee Moss is reluctant to send him off and instead places him on a final warning.

8:34PM

32 min - CHANCE PALACE

Great first-time ball from McArthur into the path of Zaha who flies into the Spurs box, but the winger's shot is blocked and cleared.

The chance stemmed from a flowing counterattack by Palace that started with a flick through the legs by Sakho in defence that bamboozled the Tottenham attack.

8:30PM

Time on ball (15 - 30 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 8:30PM

29 min

Spurs's players are getting caught in possession much more frequently than they normally do as Palace hound them about the park.

However, a half chance falls to Walker in the Palace area after nice work from Eriksen, but once again his shot hits the side netting.

8:27PM

26 min

First booking of the match goes to Wanyama as his first touch lets him down, Milivojevic nips in and is brought down with a late, lunging challenge.

8:25PM

Spurs are dominating the ball so far

Spurs are making the hosts do the chasing - they've had 216 touches of the ball compared to just 126 for Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs 8:24PM

24 min

And if you think Alderweireld's shot is bad, Walker's a minute later - from about the same distance - is even worse. It'll be a while before that comes down.

8:23PM

23 min

Strong play by Dembele and he and Zaha chase down a 50/50 ball but the Belgian manages to put in a shoulder and outmuscle his opponent. Spurs plays the ball across the pitch, not really going anywhere, and so Alderweireld has a pop shot from 30 yards that sails high over the crossbar.

8:20PM

20 min

Walker finds himself in a hug amount of space on the right as Townsend loses his man after drifting in too far. The Spurs right-back keeps himself onside but his cross (or was it a shot?) is abysmal and hits the side netting.

8:18PM

18 min

Palace's organised, compact shape is causing Spurs problems going forward as they try to break the hosts down. Dembele's frustration is there for all to see as he throws the ball to the floor after the referee blows against him.

8:16PM

Time on ball (0 - 15 min)

Possession: Crystal Palace vs Spurs 8:15PM

14 min - CHANCE PALACE

Townsend uses his pace to great effect as he cuts in from the left and makes a run across the front of the Spurs box, with two defenders trailing in his wake, before releasing a pass to Benteke who aims low for the corner but shoots too straight and Lloris is able to smother.

8:14PM

Crystal Palace respond

The hosts have their first shot of the game, in reply to two so far from Spurs.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs shots on goal 8:13PM

12 min

Mesmerising footwork by Zaha on the right as his jinks and turns leave two defenders for dead before whipping in a ball to the far post that ultimately comes to nothing.

8:11PM

10 min

Neither team has managed to get a foothold in this game with very little space in the middle of the park. Sakho is sticking very tight to Kane and every now and again gets in a little nibble.

8:09PM

8 min

Lovely link-up play between Eriksen and Kane as the Dane controls a bouncing ball, flicks it over his head to Kane who takes the ball down and shoots goalbound, but it slices narrowly wide of the goalkeeper's left-hand post.

8:06PM

6 min

There's no sense that Palace are playing within themselves as they take the attack to Tottenham and a cross from the right fizzes across the face of the Spurs goal but nobody is there to prod it home.

8:04PM

4 min

Appeals for a penalty by Palace as Walker dives in but it is a super challenge, if a little risky.

8:03PM

2 min

Dembele is brought down in the middle of the park as Puncheon goes in late but the referee waves play on and Spurs win the first corner of the game.

It's whipped in, not cleared all that well as Kane claims the ball at his feet on the edge of the box but his weak shot is blocked with a wall of red and blue in front of him.

8:00PM

1 min

And we're off! Spurs get us underway.

7:59PM

The players are out on the pitch and ready...

... we are just minutes away!

7:51PM

Allardyce on tonight's match...

"This is a catch-up game and anything we get out of it is a massive bonus because Tottenham are in fantastic form. It's a big ask but we have exceeded expectation by what we have done recently but we will not get carried away, this is a very tough match for us and hopefully our best will be good enough.

"I think a win will make us safe. Mathematically people may say we are not there yet, but I think so. Because other teams are not playing tonight this is our chance to add some breathing space."

7:45PM

Big words from Big Sam

7:39PM

Pochettino on tonight's game...

"It's coming to the end of the season and now it is important, with Chelsea winning, that we perform well, get the three points and close the gap.

"Every game is a big test. Losing that semi-final was disappointing but this is a different game and we need to be ready, fight and compete.

"Palace in the last months have beaten some big teams and this will be a very tough game."

7:34PM

Tottenham are warming up

Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

7:28PM

When dreams come true

Two of my colleagues got to play at Wembley today - broadcast v print. Here they are decked out in Spurs colours with Stan Collymore... they lost 3-0!

Jealous? Hell yes!

Stan Collymore

7:16PM

As things stand

After Chelsea's 4-2 victory over Southampton, they increased their lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points, but having played a game more.

Spurs need to win tonight to close that gap back to four and make it EIGHT league wins in a row.

7:11PM

Time for Spurs to earn a W

Tottenham haven't won an away top-flight London derby since their last visit to Selhurst Park in January 2016 (D2 L2 since).

7:07PM

Can Palace make it three in a row?

Courtesy of our friends at Opta - Crystal Palace have won their last two London derbies in the Premier League... but they've never won three in succession.

7:04PM

Game faces on...

7:02PM

TEAM NEWS

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Kelly, Sakho, Schlupp, Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha,  Christian Benteke.
Subs: Speroni, Van Aanholt, Flamini, Cabaye,  Campbell, Sako, Delaney. 

Tottenham Hotspur:Lloris, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Walker, Wanyama, Dembele, Davies, Eriksen, Alli, Kane.
Subs: Son, Janssen, Nkoudou, Trippier, Sissoko, Wimmer, Pau Lopez. 

Referee:Jon Moss (W Yorkshire) 

7:01PM

Crystal Palace v Tottenham - all you need to know

What is it?

It's the Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Tottenham.

When is it?

It's this evening and kicks off at 8pm.

Where is it?

At the home of Palace so Selhurst Park.

What TV channel is it on?

Sky Sports 1 will have live coverage of the match with the programme starting at 7.30pm. Alternatively you could bookmark this page and follow our live blog.

What is the team news?

Crystal Palace must do without defender James Tomkins for tonight's clash. The former West Ham centre-back could miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.

James Tomkins will miss tonight's match through injury

Palace manager Sam Allardyce will decide at the last minute whether to rotate his squad following Sunday's 2-1 win at Liverpool.

Palace's provisional squad: Hennessey, Speroni, Ward, Kelly, Schlupp, Van Aanholt, Sakho, Delaney, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Flamini, McArthur, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend, Benteke, Campbell, Chung-Yong, Ledley, Sako, Kaikai.

Pick your Palace team to face Spurs

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has no fresh injury concerns ahead of their trip to Palace.

Danny Rose is not yet ready to return after almost three months out with a knee injury, meaning Ben Davies is likely to start at left-back.

Erik Lamela and Harry Winks are both out with hip and ankle injuries respectively while goalkeeper Michel Vorm is struggling with a knee problem.

Spurs' provisional squad: Lloris, Lopez, Whiteman, Davies, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Dier, Wimmer, Walker, Trippier, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Sissoko, Onomah, Son, Janssen, Kane.

Pick your Spurs team to face Palace

What are people saying?

Sam Allardyce:

"Some of the best results I've had in my long career as a Premier League manager, Chelsea and Liverpool away, Arsenal at home.

"We can't take our foot off the gas and think we've done it. That's how we beat West Brom - they hit 40 points and relaxed.

"It's probably the best spell I've had as a manager, in terms of an eight-game period, given who we've beaten and how we've done it."

Mauricio Pochettino on the interest surrounding his players:

"I think because we are doing good things, the clubs with a lot of potential are focused on our players, on our talented players.

"But it is important, I told you, because my relationship with Daniel Levy is so close so far - you know the relationship between chairman and manager can change in a moment!

"But the good thing is we have the plan to try to improve and we will deliver it when we finish the season.

"The players that we want to keep, we will keep, because he said to me 'we don't need money'. If we sell some players it is because we want to sell some players.

"We will sell players because of the players we want to sign. For our fans, it is so clear that all the decisions we take are for the reason to try to improve the team, to try to be more competitive next season."

What are the latest odds?

Palace to win 9/2

Spurs to win 3/5

Draw 16/5

What is our prediction?

There have been suggestions that Sam Allardyce will change up his starting XI with one eye on their clash against Burnley to come this weekend. Yet Palace have been in superb form against the big boys in recent weeks and should still fancy themselves against Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino's side head into the clash off the back of their FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea and know they need a win to keep the heat on Antonio Conte's frontrunners. We're going for a 1-1 draw.

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