Tottenham defence helps Gazzaniga debut with clean sheet vs. Palace
Tottenham overcame a mounting injury list to edge past Premier League basement boys Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday, grabbing a 1-0 victory.
Spurs were missing their top two goalkeepers, but No. 3 Paulo Gazzaniga made some key saves alongside a couple erratic moments to keep a clean sheet on his debut.
At the other end, the north Londoners laboured for long periods, but Son Heung-Min struck a 64th-minute winner to ensure there was no hangover after the jubilation of Wednesday's triumph over Real Madrid.
This could easily have been a repeat of the disappointing draws against Burnley and Swansea at Wembley, but instead Tottenham matched last month's narrow 1-0 home win over Bournemouth. A number of key players were missing at the start and Harry Winks then suffered a first-half injury, but Spurs just about got the job done, capitalising on the fact that the four teams around them were playing each other elsewhere.
Spurs have done little to suggest they are improving against defensive visitors at Wembley and still look susceptible to dropping points against lesser sides. They only mustered two shots on target here, while Palace had three.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Mauricio Pochettino's lineup largely picked itself due to injuries, and he was then forced to swap Winks for Mousa Dembele at the interval. But despite such issues, his side emerged victorious.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Paulo Gazzaniga, 7 -- Had a couple of nervy moments, flapping at an early cross and then getting caught in no-man's land after belatedly rushing off his line, giving Wilfried Zaha an open goal. But Gazzaniga also made two excellent low saves and palmed away a close-range Luka Milivojevic header.
DF Serge Aurier, 6 -- A mixed display. Gave the ball away carelessly a couple of times, giving Palace opportunities to break, but he also put in a good cross to Danny Rose in the first half and importantly opened up the visitors' defence in the build-up to the goal with a flick to Moussa Sissoko.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 7 -- Palace threatened down his side on a few occasions and he was beaten to the header when Milivojevic tested Gazzaniga, but he was solid enough.
DF Eric Dier, 8 -- Snuffed out a number of Palace attacks, showing his pace and tackling well, while his distribution out from the back was good, too. He was just fortunate that ex-Spurs man Andros Townsend didn't opt to take a tumble over his outstretched leg in the box when Dier went to ground in the closing stages and missed the ball.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 8 -- Defended similarly strongly and repeatedly helped Spurs to break through Palace's first line of defence by running the ball forward through the gaps. The Belgian also played Son through on goal in the last 10 minutes, while continuing his run and looking aggrieved when he didn't get a return pass.
DF Danny Rose, 7 -- Still not at his best and he was well off target with a free first-half header, but he also made some good runs down the flank and put in some dangerous crosses. One in particular was just begging for a touch in front of goal, but no one attacked it. The left-back went off to a standing ovation -- clearly August's outspoken newspaper interview has been forgiven and forgotten.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 7 -- Had a quiet first half and some loose touches, but he improved as the game went on and ended up being heavily involved in the goal after getting in behind on the right side. He then did a good job helping his side protect the lead.
MF Harry Winks, 7 -- Instrumental in setting a high tempo in the first 20 minutes but then twisted his ankle, which initially slowed him down and then forced his withdrawal at half-time.
MF Christian Eriksen, 6 -- Probed energetically for openings but was unable to conjure anything this time.
FW Son Heung-Min, 6 -- Emerged the hero after an otherwise underwhelming performance. The South Korean gave the ball away too many times and was largely wasteful in the final third. He took his goal well but went on to squander two more chances in the last 10 minutes.
FW Harry Kane, 6 -- Got a kick on the ankle in the first half, which may have affected him. Apart from a long-range volley that lacked power and a header onto the roof of the net, he was unable to really scare Palace.
MF Mousa Dembele, 6 -- Replaced Winks at the interval and had a decent if unremarkable second period.
FW Fernando Llorente, N/R -- Came on in place of Kane for the final 15 minutes but offered little, not even holding the ball up particularly effectively.
DF Ben Davies, N/R -- Made a late cameo in injury time.
Ben is ESPN FC's Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.