Harry Kane delivers again but Dele Alli invites more diving fury

Crystal Palace 0 - Tottenham 1: Harry Kane headed a late winner and Dele Alli found himself at the centre of another diving controversy. There was a distinct sense it was business as usual for Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park as Mauricio Pochettino’s side moved into the top four.

Harry Kane delivers again but Dele Alli invites more diving fury

It took Kane’s 89th-minute header to finally break a Crystal Palace resistance that had threatened to stifle Spurs’ efforts to increase the pressure on Chelsea who started the day in fourth place. Before the striker’s 35th goal of the season, however, it seemed Pochettino’s side would be forced to reflect on a frustrating afternoon when they had failed to convert almost total dominance into goals and one in which Alli had been accused of going to ground too easily.

Pochettino, the Spurs manager, focused on his side’s persistence that was eventually rewarded when Kane lost marker Damien Delaney, introduced as a substitute just four minutes earlier, to meet Christian Eriksen’s corner.

“When you are involved in the game, you are always thinking ‘the next time’, ‘next, next, next’...” he said. “We deserved the victory. Late but, in the end, we fully deserved the game. We dominated, we had the chances, the performance was good. It wasn’t easy to play here against a team who are difficult to break down, but the win was important.

“Harry, for different circumstances, missed the first few chances but in the end his character made him keep pushing, keep trying, and achieve what he wanted. The important thing with the team today is we are more mature, we never give up, and we have the belief we can change the game. That is a good thing to feel, that the team have inside: a good quality we need to keep.

“All the talented players, the top players, can miss chances. But what makes this type of player a top player is that, the moment after they miss, they forget about it and try and create or take another.”

The manager could not escape questions about Alli, who went down first under a challenge from Patrick van Aanholt and again when he advanced on keeper Wayne Hennessey. A week previously, Alli had been accused of making the most of contact to win a penalty against Rochdale and has previously been booked twice for simulation this season, but Pochettino insists his player doesn’t deserve the reaction he drew from the Palace players and supporters.

“He is an easy target for everyone,” said the manager. “We need to stop saying too much about him to stop helping people, the fans, creating this reputation. He’s so competitive and played very well today but Dele is an easy target. Dele is such a special kid. He’s going to play. He’s going to show his quality. He won’t worry what people are saying about him.”

Roy Hodgson had no complaints about Alli’s reaction and was more concerned with the bout of cramp that had forced James Tomkins from the field with five minutes left after the centre-back had done a good job of shackling Kane.

“I can’t disguise it. I’m not an actor... I thought it was a really hard-working performance from the players,” he said. “They gave everything they have for the club today. Then to lose Tomkins to a severe cramp, and concede a last minute goal... it’s very hard to take. Tomkins had been very, very good for us in that position. If you were to ask me which player I’d have been desperate not to lose he would have been top of the list, but he had severe cramp and wasn’t going to last. Poor Damien found himself in that situation marking Kane.”

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3):

Hennessey 5; Wan-Bissaka 6, Fosu-Mensah 6, Tomkins 8 (Delaney 85), van Aanholt 6; McArthur 7, Milivojevic 7, Riedewald 6; Townsend 6 (Lee 87), Benteke 5, Sorloth 7.

Subs not used:

Henry, Souare, Lokilo, Rakip, Kirby.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1):

Lloris 6; Aurier 6, Dier 6, Sanchez 6, Davies 6; Wanyama 7, Dembele 7 (Son 81); Eriksen 6, Alli 6, Lamela 5 (Moura 66,6); Kane 7.

Subs not used:

Vorm, Trippier, Rose, Sissoko, Foyth.

Referee:

K Friend 7

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