Palace fell to just their second defeat in their last nine games as Christian Erikson’s 30-yarder kept Tottenham Hotspur’s title hopes on track in SE25.
The Dane’s goal 12 minutes from time proved to be the game’s decisive moment as he pinged in a trademark blast from range to clinch an eighth win in a row for the north Londoners, but Sam Allardyce’s evening was soured further due to a nasty looking knee injury to Mamadou Sakho that saw the influential defender stretched off in some agony early in the second half.
The Eagles edged the opening half with their best efforts on goal falling to Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend, but in truth neither side created too much in the way of goalscoring opportunities and it needed Eriksen’s moment of magic to separate the sides.
The first half saw both teams cancel each other out, but Palace more than held their own in the opening 45 minutes against the title chasers and looked the likeliest to take a lead into the break. The first couple of sightings of goal fell to the two biggest threats on the pitch, with Harry Kane scuffing a half-volley wide early on before Benteke should have done better with a tame skidding effort that was easily dealt with by Hugo Lloris at the other end.
Further opportunities at goal were few and far between before half-time, with Wayne Hennessey untroubled when a snap-shot by Eriksen came straight to the Welshman on 28 minutes, but the busiest player on the pitch was former Spurs man Townsend and seven minutes before the interval he burst into life once again when he was found by a nice pass by Sakho in space, and after driving forward he blasted a powerful drive just over the bar.
That was the highlight of an opening half that Allardyce would have been happy with, but his mood quickly changed six minutes after the restart when Sakho and Kane battled for the ball and the defender came off worse as he knee buckled trying to make a challenge. After several minutes of treatment, he was stretchered off amid a huge reception from the Eagles fans, devastated to see the Frenchman exit the fray.
That seemed to puncture the mood inside Selhurst Park and Spurs sensed blood in the water, and they should have gone ahead just a couple of minute after play resumed when Eriksen found Kyle Walker on the right, who picked out the run of Dele Alli at the back post but somehow the newly-crowned PFA Young Player of the Year side-footed a brilliant opportunity wide.
The England star then curled a shot goalwards soon after but it lacked the required bend to test Hennessey who claimed it well, and the pressure continued to be cranked up by the visitors as Eric Dier diverted a header from a corner over the top, but eventually the patched-up Palace defence was breached with 13 minutes to go from out of nowhere.
Spurs had possession inside the Eagles half and looked to be going nowhere until Kane handed possession to Eriksson, and with time and space 30 yards out the Dane took aim and showcased his wonderful ball-striking ability from range by sending a fizzing strike into the bottom corner of the net to give his side the all-important opener.
All the chances were falling to Mauricio Pochettino’s team and Toby Alderweireld could have put the result beyond doubt when he hooked the ball on the turn goalwards but fortunately for the Eagles it bounced wide of the mark, however despite seven minutes of injury-time Palace just couldn’t find a way out of their own half as Spurs took a strangle-hold on the game to condemn Palace to their first home defeat in five games.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Sakho (Delaney 57), Kelly, Schlupp, Milivojevic, McArthur (Cabaye 63), Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend, C. Benteke (Campbell 81). Subs not used: Speroni, Van Aanholt, Flamini, Sako.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dembele (Sissoko 46), Wanyama (Son 46), Eriksen, Alli (Trippier 90), Kane. Subs not used: Lopez, Wimmer, N’Koudou, Janssen.