Foyth puts his penalty blun­ders be­hind him to clinch hard-fought win

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Sam Wal­lace at Sel­hurst Park

A hard rain fell on Crys­tal Palace once more at Sel­hurst Park, the sta­dium where they are still yet to win a league game this sea­son, although a cold, wet English af­ter­noon will for­ever be re­mem­bered by the young Ar­gen­tine de­fender Juan Foyth, who was his team’s match-win­ner.

The 20-year-old scored his first goal for Tot­ten­ham and it was cer­tainly an improve­ment on his pre­vi­ous week­end at Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers. Foyth con­ceded two penal­ties in that vic­tory and this time he was much more as­sured as Spurs rang up their sec­ond nar­row vic­tory of the week, one that keeps them in touch at least with the Premier League’s three un­beaten teams.

For Palace it was just more of the same – they still have no goals from open play at home in the league this sea­son and are on a run of five de­feats and one draw that some­how has still not seen them drop into the rel­e­ga­tion zone. The with­drawal from the match­day squad of Wil­fried Zaha with a groin in­jury was a por­tent of things to come: Palace have not won with­out their star player since Septem­ber 2016.

Roy Hodg­son does not en­ter­tain the the­ory that his side’s destiny is de­ter­mined by the pres­ence or oth­er­wise of Zaha and he said so again af­ter what he main­tained was a bat­tling per­for­mance from his play­ers. “The team has done extremely well but that’s not go­ing to stop any­one coun­ter­ing, ‘You haven’t won the game, Wilf Zaha didn’t play and there­fore you lost’. I know that’s not true. Any­one who stud­ied the game will know that’s not true.”

Hodg­son’s side were un­done, he felt, by one lapse in con­cen­tra­tion from a sec­ond-half cor­ner and a fail­ure to take their chances, in­clud­ing one from sub­sti­tute Alexan­der Sor­loth that Hugo Lloris stopped mag­nif­i­cently. Zaha had been in­jured against Chelsea and was “extremely un­likely” to play all week, Hodg­son said, “although Wilf never wants to rule him­self out – he al­ways be­lieves mirac­u­lously he’ll get him­self out there de­spite not hav­ing trained”.

There was also an in­jury for Spurs’ Kieran Trip­pier that saw him go off in the first half with a groin prob­lem which may yet af­fect his par­tic­i­pa­tion in Eng­land’s two matches dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional break. James Tomkins de­parted for Palace in the sec­ond half with a blow to his knee and per­haps he might have got a head to the loose ball that Foyth headed in min­utes later.

Foyth will now travel to be part of his na­tional team’s squad and for Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, him­self once a young Ar­gen­tine cen­tre-back mak­ing his way in Europe, there was con­sid­er­able pride in the player’s de­vel­op­ment. “We were talk­ing a lot dur­ing the week [about what hap­pened against Wolves],” Po­chet­tino said. “That’s foot­ball. When you are a cen­tre-back – and I was – you are in­volved in this type of sit­u­a­tion.

“But the con­fi­dence and trust is mas­sive from the club and his po­ten­tial and his quality will be very help­ful for the team. He showed great char­ac­ter and played so well. I am happy for him be­cause it’s a mas­sive vic­tory for him to feel he’s a Premier League player and helped the team to win.”

The only point at which Po­chet­tino bris­tled was the sug­ges­tion that this was not a vin­tage Spurs per­for­mance, and in­deed it was a tough watch as both sides laboured in the rain.

For Po­chet­tino, how­ever, this was pre­cisely what he wanted af­ter that nar­row vic­tory over PSV Eind­hoven in the Cham­pi­ons League on Tues­day. Moussa Sis­soko came into the side and was ar­guably his best player. Chris­tian Erik­sen, Harry Winks and Son He­ung­min all dropped to the bench.

“In the last four years it was a clas­sic Tot­ten­ham vic­tory here at Palace – 1-0 for us, fight­ing, work­ing hard, al­ways suf­fer­ing a lit­tle bit,” he said. “It rained a lot and some­times it’s dif­fi­cult for every team to play fan­tas­tic foot­ball in maybe the way we want to play. [In] this type of game it’s so im­por­tant to get the three points.”

Spurs’ vic­tory takes them level on points with third-place Liver­pool, who play their cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture against Fulham to­day. The Cham­pi­ons League tests against In­ter Mi­lan and then Barcelona will see the qual­i­ties of this team ex­am­ined in other ways, but for now they are keeping pace as best they can with the An­field men, as well as Chelsea and Manch­ester City.

The game’s only goal will have been a se­vere dis­ap­point­ment to Hodg­son, who saw his side fail to de­fend a cor­ner. Harry Kane’s ini­tial header was blocked by Luka Milivo­je­vic and spun into the air. It was there to be won but nei­ther Jor­dan Ayew nor Patrick van Aan­holt at­tacked the ball and in­stead Foyth re­acted de­ci­sively to head in the first goal of his se­nior ca­reer.

There was the Sor­loth op­por­tu­nity saved by Lloris and be­fore that a weak at­tempt by Ayew to tee up sub­sti­tute Jef­frey Schlupp for a shot. Palace’s prob­lem is scor­ing goals.

Hodg­son said later that there has still been no dis­cus­sion about the re­sources avail­able in Jan­uary, and for the time be­ing Chris­tian Ben­teke, Con­nor Wick­ham and Zaha are all in­jured. Manch­ester United are next af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break be­fore Burnley come to Sel­hurst Park on Dec 1 for a game the home team sim­ply must win.

Juan nil: Tot­ten­ham’s Ar­gen­tinian de­fender Juan Foyth cel­e­brates his de­ci­sive goal

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