Palace 1 Spurs 2
- One change for Palace as Schlupp returns from injury
- Ayew stings Vicario’s palms from Hughes lay-off
- Maddison half-volleys over from Richarlison header
- Tight first-half but Palace threaten with succession of crosses
- Eagles finish the period with a number of corners as Doucouré and Ward efforts blocked
- HT: Palace 0-0 Tottenham
- Maddison cross ricochets in off Ward from close range
- Guéhi nods corner wide as Palace seek immediate response
- Johnson tees up Son to double the visitors’ lead
- Clyne makes 200th senior Palace appearance off the bench
- França comes on late on for home Palace debut
- Ayew scores superb half-volley deep into injury time to give hope
- França steers over on the stretch in the dying seconds
- FT: Palace 1-2 Tottenham
The Eagles gave as good as they got in a finely-poised first-half, but fell away early in the second after a Joel Ward own-goal and a Heung-Min Son strike saw the visitors seemingly on course for a comfortable conclusion to a keenly-fought London derby.
But Ayew’s brilliant strike in the fourth minute of injury-time set up a frantic finale at Selhurst Park, the collective voice of a fervent Palace support almost sucking the ball in for an equaliser – but Matheus França, on his home debut, could not apply a last-gasp finishing touch.
Manager Roy Hodgson had demanded collective improvement from his side following last week’s heavy defeat at Newcastle United.
That certainly proved the case in a tight first-half which Palace, buoyed by a typically thunderous backing under the Selhurst lights on a Friday night – and a spectacular light show beforehand – arguably shaded.
Clear chances were few and far between but, with Jeffrey Schlupp returning from injury and Will Hughes pressing high in a supporting role behind Odsonne Edouard, the league-leading visitors were denied time and space on the ball.
And despite their comparatively low possession figures, Palace were the more threatening team with the ball, Ayew having the first shot on target of the match in the opening exchanges as his rasping drive from the edge of the box – from a Hughes lay-off – stung the palms of Guglielmo Vicario.
Tottenham’s opportunities were well-restricted and the closest they came in the opening period was when James Maddison – admittedly impressive in the season’s opening months – fired a half-volley over from inside the box whilst being charged down by Joachim Andersen.
The aerial route was proving Palace’s most productive amidst a congested midfield, and Andersen and Marc Guéhi’s impressive range of long passes almost unlocked the visiting defence on more than one occasion.
Indeed, one such pass forwards from Andersen to Ayew teed up a succession of Palace corners – four, in fact – to close out the half, from which the likes of Ward and Cheick Doucouré both had efforts blocked from the edge of the box.
Having had all the shots on target in the first-half, Palace were good value for parity – if not more – heading into the interval, but a quick start to the second period saw the visitors take the lead.
An overlapping run from Pape Matar Sarr granted the midfielder the space to fire in a cross which landed on the boot of Maddison, and his first-time volley across goal was deflected in by the unfortunate Ward, who had no time to adjust his feet.
The Eagles almost hit back immediately when another Hughes corner picked out Guéhi six yards from goal, but with a defender jumping in front of him, the No. 6 was unsighted and glanced wide.
For all of Palace’s good work in the first-half, the match got away from them with a quarter of the game remaining, a slick passing move down Tottenham’s left flank seeing substitute Brennan Johnson tee up Son six yards out; the forward made no mistake with his finish.
The second goal appeared to take the wind out of Palace’s sails, but there was still time for two landmark appearances from the bench.
Minutes after Nathaniel Clyne came on for his 200th senior Palace appearance – a replacement for the injured Tyrick Mitchell – 19-year-old Matheus França made a Selhurst Park bow as he appeared for the closing 10 regulation minutes.
Then, deep into injury-time, lift-off and chaos.
Just as the clock appeared set to run down, a diagonal ball in from Andersen picked out Ayew and the Ghanaian – with seemingly little on – sliced an outrageous half-volley with the outside of his boot, sailing high into Vicario’s corner.
That set up a frantic finale which saw Johnstone rush forwards for a França corner and Vicario flap at the delivery – but it agonisingly sailed beyond every red and blue shirt.
One final opportunity followed as Naouirou Ahamada stabbed a loose ball forward, Jean-Philippe Mateta flicked on and it bounced, awkwardly, for França to shoot on the stretch, but on his less-favoured left foot, the teenager's effort agonisingly cleared the bar.
A much-improved display by Palace for whom, against in-form opposition, the fine margins simply did not fall.
Palace: Johnstone (GK), Ward, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell (Clyne, 70), Doucouré, Lerma (França, 79), Hughes (Ahamada, 70), Ayew, Edouard (Mateta, 79), Schlupp (Rak-Sakyi, 60)
Subs: Matthews (GK), Holding, Richards, Rïedewald
Tottenham: Vicario (GK), Porro, Romero, Van de Ven, Davies (Royal, 45), Sarr, Bissouma (Højbjerg, 64), Kulusevski (Gil, 90), Maddison (Bentancur, 90), Richarlison (Johnson, 64), Son
Subs: Forster (GK), Dier, Lo Celso, Skipp