Premier League: Roberto Soldado hands Tottenham 1-0 win at Crystal Palace
A debut goal from Roberto Soldado saw Tottenham Hotspur edge out capital rivals Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park.
Last Updated: 19/08/13 11:28am
The Eagles put in an industrious display upon their return to Premier League competition, but were unable to offer enough in the final third to trouble a Spurs side that dominated possession.
With both sides showing that they were stronger defensively than they were going forward, it was always going to take a moment of inspiration or fortune to break the deadlock.
Luck shone on Spurs five minutes into the second half as Aaron Lennon used his pace to get to the byline and fire over a cross which was blocked by the arm of a sliding Dean Moxey.
Soldado stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick, with the Spaniard making no mistake as he sent Julian Speroni the wrong way.
With a booming atmosphere created by the Palace fans excited at their first top-flight game for eight years, the home side started nervously.
Moxey's wayward back pass handed Soldado an early chance, but Speroni came to the rescue.
Despite the early wobble, Palace held their own for the first 15 minutes and the visitors had to resort to long-range efforts.
The closest Tottenham came to opening the deadlock was when Lennon found Mousa Dembele and he let fly with a 20-yard shot which beat Speroni but clipped the top of the bar.
Tottenham dominated possession, but they were often sloppy in the final third and Danny Gabbidon defied his age to keep Soldado quiet.
Palace did manage the first attempt on target when Aaron Wilbraham headed straight at Hugo Lloris.
Nacer Chadli had a glorious chance to nod Spurs ahead in first-half injury-time but he headed over while unmarked at the back post.
There was an air of disappointment as the Tottenham players trudged off at half-time, but they broke the deadlock just five minutes after the restart.
Lennon's low cross struck Moxey's out-stretched arm and referee Mark Clattenburg awarded a spot-kick. Soldado scored from the penalty spot in last week's friendly against Espanyol and he sent the ball in to the same bottom right-hand corner this time before running over to the jubilant away fans.
Palace boss Ian Holloway gambled, bringing Jonny Williams, Marouane Chamakh and Kevin Phillips on while Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas went on the defensive by replacing Dembele with debutant Etienne Capoue.
Palace put Spurs under pressure, but they left themselves open at the back and Soldado took full advantage, breaking free before finding Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he screwed his shot wide with the goal gaping.
Palace's fans were on their feet moments later as Phillips broke the offside trap. Lloris rushed out to dispossess the veteran striker, but the ball fell loose to Williams. Lennon tracked back to nick the ball off the midfielder just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Chadli spurned two chances to put the game to bed and Phillips pulled a shot wide as the game became a real end-to-end encounter.
Lloris made a rare mistake, spilling a corner, but the Tottenham stopper made amends by stopping Damien Delaney's volley a second later.
Jermain Defoe, who came on for Soldado with a few minutes left, should have put the game beyond doubt but he shot wide.
Lloris pulled off an outstanding save in the final minute to deny Kagisho Dikgacoi and Palace's push for an equaliser did not bear fruit.