Thursday 24 May 2018

Pochettino left salivating after Alli's wonder-goal sinks Palace

Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham

Dele Alli clashes with Wilfried Zaha. Photo: Reuters
Dele Alli clashes with Wilfried Zaha. Photo: Reuters
Dele Alli scores Tottenham's second goal. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino applauds after the final whistle. Photo: PA

James Riach

This will be remembered as the defining moment in Dele Alli's fledgling career. The Tottenham midfielder has already demonstrated his potential and scored at Wembley, yet with the game up for grabs in a frenetic closing period he sent gasps around this old stadium with what will surely be the goal of the season.

And all in front of Roy Hodgson. The England coach could not help but smile as Alli struck with six minutes remaining. The Palace supporters looked stunned as the Spurs teenager expertly controlled a cushioned Christian Eriksen header and touched the ball over Mile Jedinak before volleying in from 20 yards.

Jedinak had hit the bar moments before, the second Palace effort to rebound off the woodwork in quick succession. But he watched in desperation as Alli demonstrated skill, balance and poise to win the match for Spurs and put five points between them and Manchester United in the table.

Spurs had gone behind to Jan Vertonghen's first-half own goal but equalised through Harry Kane before Alli had everyone gasping in wonderment. There was still time for Nacer Chadli to score a third for Tottenham.

On any other weekend it would have been the goal of the day as he cut inside before firing a shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Gareth Bale tweeted his appreciation of Alli's skill and the player said: "I didn't think about it too much, I even shocked myself. I think you could tell by my celebration."

"It was wonderful, an amazing goal," said manager Mauricio Pochettino of Alli's strike. "He showed tremendous quality, it will be shown around the world on every TV. It was fantastic.

"I am very pleased because it was a difficult game. They (Palace) had a clear week to prepare the game, we played against Leicester in the FA Cup. I'm pleased because the performance and effort was fantastic.

"Dele shows his quality in every game. He's capable of that. He has fantastic potential, difficult to price like Harry Kane. They have big potential because they are very young. We need to keep working hard."

Spurs needed Hugo Lloris on numerous occasions despite winning by two goals. The goalkeeper and the bar denied Palace with the game level in the second half, and Vertonghen was substituted in the 75th minute with knee and ankle injuries sustained following a collision with Connor Wickham, who appeared to elbow the defender in the face.

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew did not see that incident but did see Alli collide with Yohan Cabaye near the touchline, something he described as a stamp.

"I certainly do know that I was in front when Yohan Cabaye got stamped on by Dele, so you know . . . These things happen, I'm not into retribution. It's just honest challenges, I think, and we move to the next game," he said.

"It's something that he (Alli) needs to cut out of his game, I don't know why he did it. It was something he shouldn't have done.

"He is a great player though. I'm not going to moan about spilt milk. We had so many chances but Lloris today, wow, he made two fabulous saves. If it wasn't for him we'd come away with something."

Pardew was at least delighted by his goalkeeper's recovery after two poor displays, saying: "I was pleased for Wayne Hennessey, I thought he was terrific. He had no chance with the two finishes at the end, Spurs have that individual talent to produce a goal out of nothing."


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