Christian Eriksen Keeps Tottenham Title Hopes Alive
Christian Eriksen kept Tottenham’s title hopes alive with a crucial strike to sink Crystal Palace 1-0.
The Dane rescued Spurs with a long-range drive 12 minutes from time to ensure they remain four points behind leaders Chelsea.
Tottenham had endured a tough few days, losing the FA Cup semi-final to the Blues on Saturday before Antonio Conte’s side beat Southampton 4-2 to stay in control at the top.
They desperately needed a pick-me-up at Selhurst Park to keep their season alive, but that was never going to be easy against an in-form Palace side looking to add them to the scalps of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool this month alone.
Their usually deadly front two of Harry Kane and Dele Alli were kept quiet by a Palace rearguard marshalled superbly by the returning Mamadou Sakho.
But when Sakho was forced off injured midway through the second half, Spurs sensed their chance and Eriksen’s eighth goal of the season keeps them in touch at the top with five games to go.
It was a different story in the first half, though, with the visitors looking tentative and without the swagger of their previous seven straight league victories.
Indeed it was Palace, on the back of six wins in eight games which lifted them away from relegation trouble, who created the clearer chances.
Former Spurs winger Andros Townsend almost set up an opener for the hosts when he skipped in between Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier before slipping in Christian Benteke, whose low shot was kept out by Hugo Lloris.
The lively Townsend went close himself shortly before the interval, keeping his feet despite being clipped by Jan Vertonghen before unleashing a 20-yard drive which flew narrowly over.
Frustrated Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino made a double change at the interval, replacing both his central midfielders, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama – who was lucky to still be on the pitch after escaping a second yellow card for a clumsy foul on Townsend – with Son Heung-min and Moussa Sissoko.
Alli, who scored a memorable flick, turn and volley in this fixture last season, had to wait until 10 minutes into the second half for his first sight of goal but this time could only drag his shot wide.
But, worryingly for Palace Sakho, who has played such an instrumental role in their climb away from relegation trouble, was hurt in the build-up and forced to depart on a stretcher.
Suddenly Palace were on the back foot and should have fallen behind when Alli met Kyle Walker’s cross three yards out, only to sidefoot his effort across goal and wide.
But with time running down Eriksen collected Kane’s pass some 30 yards out and lashed a powerful drive inside the far post to keep Spurs in the title hunt.