Premier League leaders Tottenham recovered from a sluggish first half to win 2-1 at Crystal Palace and extend their lead at the summit to five points.
Ange Postecoglou’s side found life tough at Selhurst Park initially, but moved through the gears in the second period and went ahead when Joel Ward put through his own net in the 53rd minute following James Maddison’s centre.
Captain Son Heung-min made the points safe 13 minutes later with a close-range finish for his eighth goal this season to ensure high-flying Spurs extended their unbeaten top-flight start to 10 matches.
Four wins on the bounce and still unbeaten! 💪
COME ON YOU SPURS! 🤍 pic.twitter.com/WPPXAkr5Hk
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 27, 2023
Jordan Ayew struck late on for Palace, but victory moved Tottenham five points clear of Manchester City, who visit rivals Manchester United on Sunday, and while that gap is unlikely to remain come the end of the weekend, this latest test passed by Postecoglou’s new-look team will only increase the optimism growing in N17.
The Australian made two changes from Monday night with left-back Destiny Udogie unavailable due to muscle tightness, which resulted in Ben Davies making his first league start this term, while Yves Bissouma returned to the starting line-up following his one-match ban.
Spurs were poor during the opening exchanges against a Palace side eager to respond to their 4-0 thrashing at Newcastle with Guglielmo Vicario twice called into action early on.
Vicario first denied Ayew’s low effort in the sixth-minute before he produced a smart save to thwart the snapshot of Odsonne Edouard, who was leading the line for the hosts.
Hodgson would have been pleased with the response to Palace’s thrashing in the North East after Will Hughes and Joel Ward snapped into tackles with Micky van de Ven and Maddison.
Maddison’s influence had been limited, but he sliced a tough half-volley chance into the Holmesdale Stand before Richarlison dragged wide from outside the area.
The opening half an hour in south London had been stop-start, which suited Palace who forced four corners in a row towards the end of the first 45, but Tottenham survived to walk off at half-time level.
Postecoglou had lambasted the second half showing against Fulham and would have been equally frustrated with this display after Spurs failed to have a shot on target despite more than 70 per cent possession.
He reacted with Emerson Royal introduced for Davies and while the visitors’ wait for a first shot on target continued, they still managed to break the deadlock in the 53rd minute.
Tottenham’s goal came from their right side with Pedro Porro playing in Pape Sarr, who cut back for Maddison and his smashed effort across goal bounced off Ward and into the Palace net.
It was tough on Palace but Hodgson’s side immediately searched for an equaliser and Edouard had a shot deflected over by Cristian Romero.
Marc Guehi headed wide from the resulting corner before Postecoglou made further changes with Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg brought on.
Johnson needed barely two minutes to make his mark with a first assist for the club since a £45million deadline day move from Nottingham Forest.
The substitute started the move with a cushioned header into Maddison, who passed back into Johnson and he smartly recycled the ball to Son and the Spurs captain rifled home from close-range in the 66th minute.
After Tottenham switched off at 2-0 up against Fulham, there was little chance of a repeat and Postecoglou sent on Rodrigo Bentancur for his first appearance since he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage to his left knee in February.
Bentancur’s arrival on the pitch was met with big cheers by the away fans, but the travelling support endured a nervy finale.
Ayew reduced the deficit four minutes into stoppage time when he controlled Joachim Anderson’s cross and fired beyond Vicario, which was eventually awarded after a lengthy VAR check.
Palace pushed for a last-gasp leveller and forced several set-pieces before substitute Matheus Franca sliced wide under pressure from Porro to confirm a fourth consecutive win for leaders Spurs.