Tottenham overcame a sluggish and disappointing first half performance to surge to an ultimately clinical 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Harry Kane scored his 263rd and 264th Spurs goals as he continues to chase Jimmy Greaves’ all-time club record of 266, while Matt Doherty also got in on the act and even Son Heung-min netted his first in the Premier League since September.
Spurs initially started the brighter of the sides in south London but it took both sides a good while to really get into the swing of things and create a meaningful chance. When it came, it went the way of the hosts, with Wilfried Zaha forging the opening down the left and Jordan Ayew’s low shot from the centre of the penalty area saved well by Hugo Lloris.
Not long after, Lloris also thought there was danger enough to fly across his goal in pursuit of a drive from Joachim Andersen that only narrowly missed the target.
The Palace pressure lasted until the break, after which Spurs emerged from the dressing rooms earlier than their opponents, potentially after a dressing down from Antonio Conte.
Whatever he said must have worked because the breakthrough goal came less than three minutes after the restart. Bryan Gil was involved in the build-up, with Ivan Perisic’s floated cross to the far post too inviting for Kane not to simply nod in.
So often this season, Spurs have only turned up in the second half of games or after going behind and it was more of the same here. The second goal, still within 10 minutes of the restart, was exactly what they weren’t doing in the first half. There was more urgency and impetus in their play and, as the ball made its way out to Gil on the right, he played a cute square pass inside to Kane – one touch and finish across the goal into the bottom corner.
The quickfire double knocked the stuffing out of Palace, although Michael Olise threatened shortly after the hour mark with a curling first-time shot that just missed the far post.
Even with Spurs starting to purr a little more, Son still looked off the pace and low on confidence. He squandered a one-on-one chance, unknowing at the time the flag had gone up, and then hesitated when Kane gave him a glorious opportunity in front of goal. Fortunately for Son, he managed to rescue the latter situation enough to lay it back for Doherty to power in the third goal.
With that assist under hit belt, Son took it one better as the game neared the final stages. The outstanding Kane lofted one over the top, and when Marc Guehi failed to command the situation, Son was in and rifled the ball past Vicente Guaita with his left foot.
Even at 4-0 down, Palace still tried to put a few moves together and, just as he had done at 0-0 in the first half, Ayew made Lloris work to preserve the clean sheet.
Crystal Palace player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Vicente Guaita – 4/10 – Beaten relatively easy every time.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – 5/10 – Kept Perisic in check except when it mattered most.
CB: Joachim Andersen – 5/10 – Could have made the headlines with a spectacular almost goal in the first half. Poor defending for the third Spurs goals allowed Kane to make the chance.
CB: Marc Guehi – 4/10 – Arguably left Kane in too much space for the second Spurs goal. Didn’t get out to the ball fast enough to close down the space or the shot. At fault for the fourth.
LB: Joel Ward (c) – 5/10 – Second best in the aerial battle with Kane for the opening goal. Couldn’t keep up with Spurs in the second half and seemed to get the runaround.
CM: Cheick Doucoure – 6/10 – Hit shooting radar was way off, but had at least been a big reason why Spurs struggled to get going in the first half.
CM: Jeffrey Schlupp – 5/10 – Didn’t start the second half well and his last act was a yellow card.
RM: Michael Olise – 6/10 – Enjoyed a strong first half and looked like he had the potential to unlock the Spurs defence. Faded as the game progressed.
AM: Eberechi Eze – 5/10 – Had a few moments in the opening 45 minutes. Not enough.
LM: Wilfried Zaha – 6/10 – Looked dangerous on the handful of occasions he could drive in from the left. It just needed to happen more.
ST: Jordan Ayew – 7/10 – Forced a good save out of Lloris in either half. Led the line well overall and his easily his team’s most likely source of a goal.
SUB: Jean-Philippe Mateta (61′ for Schlupp) – 5/10
SUB: Odsonne Edouard (73′ for Olise) – 5/10
SUB: Will Hughes (74′ for Eze) – 5/10
Patrick Vieira – 5/10 – Would have been generally happy with what he saw in the first half, if slightly disappointed over a lack of clinical edge. But there was no answer when Spurs cranked it up.
Tottenham player ratings (3-4-3)
GK: Hugo Lloris (c) – 7/10 – Made an important save at 0-0 that proved significant. It could have been a very different game otherwise. Preserved the clean sheet even with another decent save at 4-0.
CB: Cristian Romero – 6/0 – Came through the test in the end.
CB: Eric Dier – 7/10 – Made a few important blocks and clearances when Palace were on top.
CB: Clement Lenglet – 6/10 – Retained possession well.
RM: Matt Doherty – 8/10 – Suddenly played with a lot more energy after half-time and helped make the chance for the killer second goal, before scoring the third.
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 5/10 – Too passive, especially when making a half-hearted attempt to block Andersen’s shot from distance.
CM: Oliver Skipp – 6/10 – Decent enough performance in the middle of the park in the end.
LM: Ivan Perisic – 7/10 – Showcased his superb crossing ability to set up the opener for Spurs. Hadn’t been involved enough before then.
RW: Bryan Gil – 8/10 – Clever assist for Kane’s second and involved in the first too. This was his chance to impress and he made sure to take it.
ST: Harry Kane – 9/10 – Anonymous for large periods of the first half. But he was starved of service and came alive when he finally got it. Showcased clinical quality with two great goals, made the third goal possible and then directly assisted the fourth.
LW: Son Heung-min – 7/10 – Looked a player increasingly devoid of confidence for an hour of this game, even when Spurs improved as a whole. Managed to get a slightly scrappy assist and then the smile returned with a well-taken goal of his own.
SUB: Pape Sarr (66′ for Skipp) – 7/10
SUB: Ryan Sessegnon (78′ for Gil) – 6/10
SUB: Emerson Royal (78′ for Doherty) – 6/10
SUB: Havey White (86′ for Perisic) – N/A
SUB: Ben Davies (86′ for Leglet) – N/A
Antonio Conte – 8/10 – Sent his team out early for the second half and clearly lit a fire under them because it was a totally different performance after the break.