Soldado sets Spurs on the high road
Villas-Boas praises Spain striker after he slots home winning penalty on Tottenham debut
Reuters in London
Spain striker Roberto Soldado's penalty on his Premier League debut gave Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in their opening match of the season yesterday.
Spurs, who were not awarded a single penalty last season, were given the spot kick early in the second half for an unfortunate handball by Palace defender Dean Moxey as he tried to block a dangerous Aaron Lennon cross.
Soldado, a £26 million (HK$$314 million) signing from Valencia, then coolly slotted his effort inside Julian Speroni's right-hand post. "Roberto's a real out-and-out striker. He's not been here a lot because of the Confederations Cup but he'll get fitter and sharper and will be even better," Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
Argentine Speroni was the busier keeper helping to keep Spurs at bay especially with a brilliant leap to tip over a shot from midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half.
Tottenham, without injured forward Gareth Bale who scored 21 league goals last season and has been a transfer target of Real Madrid's for most of the off-season, were guilty of missing more chances that could have settled the match long before the end.
"It's very important to open with a win. [Palace manager] Ian Holloway really puts his team together very well. They were very narrow and there was some unpredictability," said Villas-Boas. "We should have put the game to bed but I'm generally very pleased to come to a difficult ground and get the three points."
In a nerve-wracking final few minutes Spurs were indebted to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for a double save from Kagisho Dikgacoi.
Nacer Chadli, another of Spurs' new signings, headed over the bar from close range in first half added time and Sigurdsson's low shot in the 69th was out of the diving Speroni's reach but also just wide of the far post.
Spurs substitute Jermain Defoe also shot wide of the post in the 88th after a jinking run.