An hour had passed and her team was ahead when the opening notes of “Glory Glory Hallelujah” rang out from the away end.
It hadn’t been wonderful by any means. It was more of an ordeal for Tottenham, but that probably increased Ange Postecoglou’s satisfaction.
To achieve anything significant over the course of a season, you have to score points in difficult circumstances.
Spurs have suffered setbacks here in recent years, but here they have moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought and sometimes downright ugly win on a damp and dreary evening in south London against belligerent Crystal Palace.
Postecoglou’s side sputtered in the first half and took the lead early in the second when James Maddison missed a shot that would probably have been ruled a Palace throw had it not been deflected into his own net by Joel Ward .
Son Heung-min (left) managed to double Spurs’ lead again
The Tottenham captain played a starring role in the North London side’s unbeaten start
Ange Postecoglou’s men will be at the top of the table for the remainder of the league weekend
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Tottenham took advantage of their luck, took control of the game and added another goal, this time one with an aesthetic appeal: Maddison and substitute Brennan Johnson set up Heung-min Son for his eighth goal of the season.
Jordan Ayew scored an equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage time, providing a thrilling finish after a long handball check, and substitute Matheus Franca fired a shot wide as they pushed for a late equaliser.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Tottenham: Match facts
Crystal Palace XI: Johnstone, Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell (Clyne), Lerma (Franca), Doucoure, Hughes (Ahamada), Ayew, Edouard (Mateta), Schlupp (Rak-Sakyi)
Unused subs: Holding, Richards, Matthews, Riedewald
Goals: Yes / Yes
Booked: Andersen, Ayew
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Tottenham Hotspur XI: Vicario, Porro, Romero, van de Ven, Davies (Emerson Royal), Bissouma (Hojbjerg), Sarr, Kulusevski (Bentancur), Maddison (Gil), Richarlison (Johnson), Son
Unused subs: Skipp, Dier, Lo Celso, Forster
Goals: Ward (OG), son
Manager: Ange Postecoglou
However, Spurs held on for the win and can now put their feet up for the weekend. The last time they were five times ahead in the top flight was in 1960/61, in the Glory-Glory era, when they last won the title.
Such golden peaks are still a long way off and Postecoglou will resist premature talk of a title challenge, but being unbeaten after ten games and winning games with a mix of style and substance is an impressive start.
Roy Hodgson came into the game demanding a reaction to his team’s 4-0 defeat at Newcastle. The Palace boss made just one change in his 500th game in charge of an English club, with Jeffrey Schlupp returning from injury, and challenged his players to do better than in their previous outing.
They responded with a powerful start full of energy and purpose, pushing Tottenham while trying to play out from the back. Will Hughes prevailed in the opening minutes and although Micky van de Ven recovered and pushed him away from goal, the Palace midfielder managed to pass Jordan Ayew, who made the first save of the night from Guglielmo Vicario.
Tottenham’s Italian goalkeeper was back in action when Odsonne Edouard, who briefly played under Postecoglou at Celtic before moving to south London, fired another sharp shot in his direction and flew low across the turf.
There was danger for Palace in the early meetings, but Spurs soon entered a phase where they dominated possession. Yves Bissouma was back in Postecoglou’s midfield after a one-match suspension and Ben Davies came on as a replacement for injured left-back Destiny Udogie.
They circulated the ball without finding a comfortable pace or finding a way through the red and blue lines to get a clear look at Sam Johnstone in goal. Palace pulled back, putting a lot of players behind the ball and making things uncomfortable.
Maddison turned away to the left but couldn’t find a teammate with his low cutback. Bissouma fired a free-kick so far off target that it drew jeers from the home fans, just like when Pape Matar Sarr put so much determination into a shot from the run that he only managed to fall to the ground as the ball bounced to turn from its base and roll out.
Crystal Palace were difficult to beat and looked well coached after last week’s 4-0 disaster at Newcastle
But an own goal from Joel Ward (left) put a damper on the strong first half at Selhurst Park
Tottenham’s Australian coach was a loud presence on the sidelines in south London
Maddison missed another difficult chance across goal and Richarlison missed the ball from distance. The whole thing made for a messy spectacle as Palace responded to this spell with Spurs at the top with a bit more aggression in midfield, working hard to ensure the Premier League leaders had no time to pick their passes.
As half-time approached, the momentum returned to Hodgson’s team. A penalty was called for when the ball hit Richarlison in the arm as he jumped to deflect a cross in his own penalty area and applied pressure through a series of set-pieces.
Tottenham resisted but Postecoglou wore a sombre look of dissatisfaction as he marched down the touchline at half-time.
There were echoes of the same game in January when Spurs battled goalless in the first half before two goals from Harry Kane gave them the lead shortly after the restart and they cruised to a 4-0 win.
This time there was no Kane, but there was a breakthrough. Pedro Porro released Sarr, whose low cross was happily deflected to Maddison, who in turn swung at the ball and squared it. Ward was caught flat on his feet as he stood in front of his goal and his instinct to intervene led to him turning the ball into his own net.
James Maddison (right) was once again a vital life force for Tottenham and could not be stopped
Jordan Ayew’s superb strike came too late for Palace to fight for a share of the points
Roy Hodgson’s 500th game in English football in all competitions ended on a sour note
Under Postecoglou, the strength lay in finding a way forward as a unit with contributions from all areas. Somehow, anyway. They did it again.
Davies didn’t return for the second half, so they had Emerson Royal at left-back and looked vulnerable at times. Schlupp weaved his way past Porro at the start of the second half but couldn’t get a pass.
After the own goal, Marc Guehi failed to score with a header from a corner, but Postecoglou’s team scored the second goal after his double substitution, sending on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Johnson, who set up Son for the second time.
It was enough to survive the late terror.