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Crystal Palace

Spurs brush past Premier League new-boys Crystal Palace.

Club record signing Roberto Soldado scored the winning penalty for Tottenham Hotspur on his debut, beginning Andre Villas-Boas’s second season at the club with a win against promoted club Crystal Palace.

The first game of the season is always a special occasion for any club, whether that be a club challenging for European honours or a club appearing in the top division for the first time in eight years.  The vibrant reception that the Crystal Palace team received throughout the game, however, made this meeting particularly special. With any luck, this atmosphere will carry the Eagles this season in their attempt to avoid relegation.

Like many games last season, Spurs held most of the possession in midfield between the strong middle pairing of Mousa Dembele and £17million-signing Paulinho, also making his first appearance for the Lilywhites. Both impressed throughout, controlling the tempo of the game and at times threatening the goal, with Dembele’s shot in the first quarter almost breaking the deadlock.

Other close chances from Gylfi Sigurdsson and other debutant Nacer Chadli in the half were promising for Spurs, while the Pally’s saw very little of the ball. With the surprise appearance from injury-threatened Jan Vertonghen in defence, this would be a common feature of the game. Despite this, the half ended all square.

However, the chance to break the deadlock came in the 49th minute when Dean Moxey handled in the area after blocking a cross from Aaron Lennon. Referee Mark Clattenburg did not hesitate in giving Spurs the penalty. The clinical Spaniard Soldado, who scored 30 goals last season in 46 appearances for Valencia, slotted the penalty in the keeper’s right-hand corner with ease.

The Spurs defence proved a brick wall for Palace, one that they could not break down, despite the appearance for the wily Kevin Phillips and ex-Gunner Marouane Chamakh. They held the match for a 1-0 victory.

The most impressive display, however, did not come from any of the Spurs players, but from Aussie Mile Jedinak, Palace’s skipper. Jedinak, a holding midfielder, patrolled the pitch with ease, breaking up many of Tottenham’s attacks with strong tackles and interceptions. He received many plaudits during and after game, despite missing out on Man of the Match, which was given to Paulinho by Niall Quinn.

Spurs may not be fully happy with their performance. but they can be pleased that they got what they deserved. Whilst in many ways this victory away from home was reminiscent of Spurs last season, they also had something else in their style, a certainty that they would not be beaten. Should this be the case for the season, their target of a place in this years top four is likely to be achieved.