Tottenham ensured the new chapter in the club's history started with victory as they overcame Crystal Palace 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday night in the first competitive match at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
A fairly confident start by the visitors nearly led to them taking a shock lead as Jeffrey Schlupp burst into the box and fired a shot over from a good angle early on. With Dele Alli occupying a more influential deep-lying role, Spurs saw plenty of the ball without truly testing Vicente Guaita in the Eagles' net, coming closest through Christian Eriksen's low effort that the Palace keeper dived low to keep out.
Son-Heung min had the first effort of the second period, blasting over from distance, while Michy Batshuayi bent an effort wide of the far post shortly after. However, history was written just ten minutes into the second half. Son was found in acres of space on the right, cutting inside and hitting a left-footed effort into the bottom corner via the leg of Luka Milivojevic, to send the home faithful into raptures.
Mauricio Pochettino's side continued to dominate as the match wore on and grabbed the decisive second through Eriksen's close range finish, as they capped off a monumental night in the history of the club with a well deserved, and much needed, win.
59 - Christian Eriksen has now assisted 59 goals in his 200 Premier League games; only Cesc Fàbregas (66), David Beckham (62), Thierry Henry (61) and Dennis Bergkamp (60) provided more in their first 200 appearances in the competition. Greats. pic.twitter.com/jSjOWO1s3e— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2019
Here's 90min's breakdown of this one.
Key Talking Point
Wednesday 3 April, a day that will forever be etched into Tottenham's history.
Having previously been scheduled to begin their new era against Liverpool back in September, the wait to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been a long time coming. It nearly got off to a nightmare start through Schlupp's early miss, but Pochettino's men soon began to assert their dominance. Only a handful of straightforward saves for Guaita came as a result in a one-sided first half, against what was a backdrop of growing nervousness and expectancy in their magnificent new stadium.
The next goal was without question going to prove pivotal, and the home side crucially got it with the first Premier League goal at their new home ten minutes after the restart. It was all Spurs from then on in, despite truly testing Guaita in the Palace net. Any lingering nerves were soon put to bed as Eriksen took advantage of Marriner's decision to play on after Harry Kane was fouled in the box, picking up the pieces and firing in from close range.
Starting XI: Lloris (6); Trippier (7), Vertonghen (7), Alderweireld (7), Davies (7); Sissoko (8), Alli (8*), Son (7), Eriksen (7), Rose (6); Kane (7)
Substitutes: Winks (7), Moura (7), Wanyama (N/A)
Star Man - Dele Alli
The England international assumed a deeper role on Wednesday night, a position he has flourished in on previous outings. In a first half that the home side dominated, Alli saw plenty of the ball, able to dictate proceedings and allow Son Heung-min and Harry Kane to make piercing runs in behind.
He played a few such passes, almost Xavi-esque at times, spraying the ball left to right as Spurs tried to break down a dogged Palace defence.
Some will argue he was fortunate to stay on the pitch, though, after he was spared a second yellow card by Andre Marriner after an apparent dive in the first half.
Dele Alli, who looks like he can run again this evening, certainly does get fouled a lot. It's all those nutmegs he tries.— AP (@__AP____) April 3, 2019
Halftime thoughts of #TOTCRY :— Joseph Erickson (@JEricksonReport) April 3, 2019
- Tottenham have done a good job retaining possession in Crystal Palace's half, but have lacked the ability to finish.
- I like Dele Alli as a deep-lying play-maker. Although he sometimes lacks urgency, he has the ability to dink passes in behind.
Dele Alli has been superb, those through balls over the top have been accurate.— Dapps (@OladapoJ) April 3, 2019
Key Talking Point
The evening's clash at Tottenham's new ground have been perceived either negatively or positively for Roy Hodgson, depending on his outlook. A match where the home side are fully aware of the importance of victory and will fight tooth and nail for it, or, a match where nerves will be sure to kick if the scores are level - something a side known for their counter attacking qualities can exploit.
Nevertheless, Hodgson will have been relatively pleased heading into half time with the scores level, while arguably equally aggrieved. The home side were repeatedly banging on the door without forcing Guaita into too many saves, however, an already booked Alli could well have received his marching orders for what seemed a blatant dive in the first 45 minutes.
Their hard work was undone shortly after half time, as the visitors failed to show any intent going forward and rarely looked like threatening until late on. It remains unlikely that Palace will go down this season, and matches against the 'top six' won't be the deciding factor, however they should be preparing for top-flight football next season.
Starting XI: Guaita (5); Wan-Bissaka (6), Tomkins (6), Kelly (5), Van Aanholt (5); Kouyate (5), Milivojevic (5), McArthur (5), Schlupp (6), Batshuayi (5), Zaha (6)
Substitutes: Townsend (5), Benteke (5)
Star Man - Jeffrey Schlupp
The Ghanian has been something of an unsung hero for the Eagles this season, shifting from his usual role as a left back into a wider midfield role to incorporate both him and Patrick van Aanholt into the side.
He came closest to opening the scoring early on when he blazed an effort over with the goal at his mercy, however, still showed endeavour and effort in a mostly backs-against-the-wall display for the visitors.
Spurs return to their brand new stadium in rather more daunting circumstances next Tuesday, hosting Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final.
Meanwhile, Palace leave London to and travel to Newcastle to take on Rafael Benitez's side, hoping to claw themselves further away from the Premier League relegation zone.