Saturday 21 October 2017

Poacher Defoe sparkles against Palace

Tottenham 2 Crystal Palace 0

Spurs striker Jermain Defoe
Spurs striker Jermain Defoe

Ben Findon

Jermain Defoe does not have many weeks of his glittering Tottenham career remaining but White Hart Lane's natural born goalscorer is clearly intent on departing in the manner he has spent most of his nine goal-laden seasons in north London.

The England striker, who departs at the end of next month for Major League Soccer's Toronto FC, proved his prowess once again by stepping off the substitutes' bench to make victory safe for Tim Sherwood's new-look side.

His trademark clinical close-range strike in the 73rd-minute, added to Christian Eriksen's well-taken opener, was sufficient to see off Crystal Palace, who faded after a bright start.

It was Defoe's 143rd goal for Tottenham -- he is fifth in the all-time Tottenham goalscoring list -- and on this showing, his long goodbye to the supporters who hold him so dear to their hearts could provide further celebrations.

"He warmed up like an Olympic athlete. I saw the appetite he was showing to come on," said Sherwood. "Jermain will score wherever he plays, in any league in the world. He is a goalscorer, loves scoring goals and if he doesn't score he gets the hump. He will be happy tonight."

Yet it could have been so different had Palace had an early lead to build on. That they did not was down to Jason Puncheon, who spectacularly skied an eighth-minute penalty.

It was the first Premier League penalty not to be placed on target this season. "He changed his mind at the last moment and you can't do that with penalties," said Palace boss Tony Pulis. "When you are playing good football you have to take your chances."

Tottenham toiled through the first half, but from the opening whistle after the interval they shifted up the gears impressively and ultimately won at a canter.

"At half-time it wasn't pretty but I told them it was not up to the standard of what's required," Sherwood added.

Palace had not been beaten in four previous league visits to White Hart Lane and the new-found organisation and belief instilled by Pulis gave the south Londoners the confidence to dominate the early stages despite the blow of Puncheon's penalty howler. Tottenham, though, still had the two best chances before the interval through Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb.

The second half was just five minutes old when Sherwood's men made good on their dominance as Adebayor glanced the ball on for Eriksen, who finished powerfully.

The arrival of Defoe, who replaced a subdued Roberto Soldado, broadened Tottenham's attacking threat and the 31-year-old duly wrapped up the points 17 minutes from the end with a trademark penalty area twist and finish.

White Hart Lane rose to acclaim their poacher supreme. They will remember him this way.

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