Son strike seals laboured Tot­ten­ham win over Palace

Spurs’ third-choice goal­keeper Paulo Gaz­zaniga keeps his team in the game

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer - David Hyt­ner at Wem­b­ley

Roy Hodg­son turned on his heel and marched back to­wards the bench. The Crys­tal Palace man­ager’s stony-faced fury told the story. Foot­ball can be the cru­ellest of pur­suits, and how Hodg­son felt it shortly af­ter the hour mark here at Wem­b­ley.

His Palace team had held Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur at arm’s length and cre­ated a clutch of chances to have taken the lead. Paulo Gaz­zaniga, the third-choice Tot­ten­ham goal­keeper, had kept his team in it, while Wil­fried Zaha had blown a glo­ri­ous chance fol­low­ing a 57th minute break­away.

But, in a heart­beat, the game had turned, and Hodg­son had that sink­ing feel­ing. Son He­ung-min’s win­ner was a beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted fin­ish – quite out of keep­ing with the rest of his per­for­mance and that of his team.

The South Korea for­ward’s body shape was per­fect and he got his left-footed shot to bend back into the cor­ner of the net from a yard or so out­side of it.

Hodg­son could curse how the ball had reached Son. Af­ter Danny Rose had jinked in­side and seen a shot blocked, Moussa Sis­soko re­cy­cled the move with a low cross from the right. Yo­han Cabaye had the chance to clear but he suc­ceeded only in play­ing it straight to Son. He did the rest.


Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s team strug­gled to get them­selves go­ing, and but for Gaz­zaniga they would have dropped points. As it was, they could lux­u­ri­ate in winning when they did not de­serve to.

Po­chet­tino’s in­clu­sion of Gaz­zaniga for his Tot­ten­ham de­but had been un­ex­pected. With Hugo Lloris out with an ad­duc­tor mus­cle prob­lem, Michel Vorm had been in line for a rare Pre­mier League op­por­tu­nity but, in­cred­i­bly, he would in­jure his knee in train­ing on Satur­day. The door opened for Gaz­zaniga, a sum­mer sign­ing from Southamp­ton, and he would be the hero.

Po­chet­tino was with­out Dele Alli, the two-goal star of the mid­week Madrid tie, be­cause of a ham­string in­jury, and the home team laboured. The tempo and co­he­sion was miss­ing.

Rose fluffed a first-half header on the cor­ner of the six yard box, while Son was torn be­tween cross­ing and shoot­ing when well-placed on the left of the area. In the end he did nei­ther. The ball went out for a throw-in.

Harry Winks and Harry Kane needed treat­ment for knocks in the first half, and the former, who was caught on the foot by Luka Milivo­je­vic, did not reap­pear for the sec­ond half.

It was all a bit stop-start from Tot­ten­ham. Kane looped a 35th minute header over the cross­bar, and that was as good as it got for his team be­fore the in­ter­val.

Palace would have led in the 36th minute fol­low­ing a Cabaye cor­ner but for an ex­cel­lent save by Gaz­zaniga.

Scott Dann rose above Eric Dier and he planted a down­wards header to­wards the cor­ner.

Gaz­zaniga show­cased his re­flexes and Jan Ver­tonghen com­pleted the clear­ance.

Palace’s plan was work­ing. They frus­trated Tot­ten­ham and, by the hour mark, it was a won­der how they were not in front. It was they who cre­ated the best chances.

Gaz­zaniga was the rea­son it stayed goal­less. Him, and a mo­ment of loose fin­ish­ing from the other­wise im­pres­sive Zaha.

Gaz­zaniga tipped An­dros Townsend’s low shot around the far post af­ter the former Tot­ten­ham for­ward had seized upon a poor ball from Serge Aurier to run through, while he beat out Milivo­je­vic’s header at the far post af­ter a cor­ner had de­flected up off Dier.

The Zaha miss was a hor­ri­ble mo­ment for him and Palace be­cause when he took the ball around Gaz­zaniga on a fast break and the empty net yawned, a player of his re­fine­ment had to score.

Yet Zaha missed and was fu­ri­ous with him­self. Mo­ments later Son twisted the knife.


Tot­ten­ham’s He­ung-Min Son scores the only goal of the game against Crys­tal Palace at Wem­b­ley.

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