Soldado penalty condemns plucky Palace to defeat
Roberto Soldado’s second-half penalty condemned Crystal Palace to defeat as the opened up their Premier League season with a 1-0 home loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
But the Eagles left the pitch to a standing ovation for a dogged display that deserved more and suggested they can compete in England’s top tier.
The Eagles fought hard throughout and restricted Spurs to only a handful of chances. The problem was that they too struggled to make an impact in the opposition half.
Only when Jonny Williams, Marouane Chamakh and Kevin Phillips were introduced midway through the second half did they start to pose a threat and Kagisho Dikgacoi almost grabbed them a point only for Hugo Lloris to deny him at his near post.
The Eagles lined up with Aaron Wilbraham up front supported by Owen Garvan, Stephen Dobbie and record signing Dwight Gayle, who found it difficult playing in the hole and spent too much of his time tracking Mousa Dembele instead of helping Wilbraham.
But Palace were solid and kept their shape and discipline superbly. Aaron Lennon posed Spurs’ biggest threat and twice got in behind Dean Moxey before the left back got back in time to block his cross.
Dembele rifled in a shot from 20 yards that clipped the crossbar and Soldado flicked Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick over the bar.
At the other end, Palace had the first shot on target on 27 minutes when Wilbraham headed Stephen Dobbie’s free kick straight to Lloris.
Julian Speroni produced some acrobatics to tip Sigurdsson’s long range shot over the bar and Nacer Chadil headed over with the last action of the half.
Palace’s resistance was broken four minutes into the restart though.
Lennon escaped past Moxey again and as he dived to block the cross, Moxey’s left hand made contact with the ball and gave referee Mark Clattenbury no option but to point to the spot.
Soldado kept his cool to send Speroni the wrong way and secure himself a debut goal.
Ian Holloway made his triple change at 65 minutes, replacing Wilbraham, Owen Garvan and Dobbie as he went for broke.
It was Spurs that should have wrapped the game up though, Sigurdsson firing wide from Soldado’s pull back.
Lloris was off his line quickly to deny Gayle and Phillips and, after substitute Jermaine Defoe had skewed wide at the other end, the keeper twice beat out shots from Damien Delaney and Dikgacoi as they Eagles failed to find a way through.
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