Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praised “fantastic” defender Juan Foyth after he scored the winning goal against Crystal Palace – a week after conceding two penalties on his Premier League debut.
The 20-year-old Argentine headed in from close range when he reacted quickest after Harry Kane’s header had been partially blocked.
It was only his second league appearance, after he had conceded two penalties – scored by Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez – during Spurs’ 3-2 victory at Wolves last Saturday.
“He is an intelligent, smart player and he has the potential to be one of the best centre-backs in Europe,” said fellow Argentine Pochettino.
“Of course he was very disappointed last week, he felt responsible but that’s the job of the coaching staff to work with a player and we laughed about the situation. To improve, you have to make mistakes and that is going to help him.
“He has so much potential and only needs time and games to improve. After last week we said ‘you need to forget that situation’ because it has happened and it can happen to footballers.
“His performance today was fantastic. He played so well. He needs to learn and keep improving but he is a very good prospect for us.”
Palace have now failed to win in seven games in all competitions and were left rueing James Tomkins’ failure to hit the target with a free header when it was goalless.
The hosts pushed for an equaliser late on, but Spurs captain Hugo Lloris did well to deny Jeffrey Schlupp, ex-Tottenham man Andros Townsend and substitute Alexander Sorloth as the visitors held on.
The result leaves the Eagles 16th, only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, while fourth-placed Tottenham are two points behind leaders Manchester City, although the top three are all in action on Sunday.
It was not all good news for Tottenham, however, as England international Kieran Trippier, who on Thursday was named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the friendly against the United States and the Nations League game versus Croatia, limped out of the game after only 22 minutes.
Midfielder Erik Lamela also had to leave the field when he suffered a badly cut head as he slid in to challenge Schlupp.
From villain to hero
Foyth, who joined Tottenham from Argentine club Estudiantes in August 2017 in an £8m transfer, had only played in cup games before making his poor league debut at Molineux last weekend.
He was not in the 18-man matchday squad for Spurs’ 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League on Tuesday, but a hamstring injury to Davinson Sanchez gave Foyth another chance.
He made a nervous start when he needlessly conceded a corner under no pressure with a misplaced pass to Lloris, although Palace could not capitalise from the set-piece.
But he became the match winner in the second half, reacting quickest as Palace failed to attack the second ball after Harry Kane’s header had deflected into Foyth’s range.
Tottenham had 65% of the possession and had the best chances in the first half, but Dele Alli headed wide when unmarked, Kane had a 25-yard shot pushed away and Lucas Moura headed over.
After the game, Foyth admitted he had learned a lot from his mistakes against Wolves.
“I think the two penalties I conceded against Wolves, I have to learn from,” said Foyth. “I’ve worked in training but these two penalties helped me with experience.”
Foyth’s team-mate, Dele Alli, added: “Juan deserves a lot of credit. It says a lot about his character after conceding those two penalties at Wolves.
“He works hard every day in training and he’s come in and got the winner.”
Palace lose again when Zaha is not there
For Palace, it continues a remarkable record of results when talisman Wilfried Zaha is not available.
Hodgson said Zaha tweaked his hamstring in the final 10 minutes of the Eagles’ 3-1 loss to Chelsea last weekend, although the Ivory Coast international did manage to finish that match.
And this result means Palace have now lost each of the past 13 games that they have played when the 26-year-old is absent.
His influence has also been shown this season, with him playing a part in five of the eight league goals Palace had scored (three goals and two assists).
However, Roy Hodgson’s side, who last won on 25 September with a 3-0 away win against Championship West Brom in the third round of the Carabao Cup, should have at least earned a point against Tottenham.
Despite the visitors having more of the ball, the home side were a threat at set-pieces in wet conditions.
Tomkins, who later went off injured, should have scored when he lost his marker at the back post but headed narrowly wide following a corner in the second half.
Palace’s best play came in the final 15 minutes, but Lloris, one of six Tottenham changes after he had been suspended for the Champions League tie against PSV, excelled to frustrate Hodgson’s team.
Man of the match – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Spurs beat Palace again – the stats
- Crystal Palace have lost seven consecutive top-flight matches against a single opponent for the first time ever.
- Tottenham have won 1-0 in each of their last five Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace, the longest run of consecutive identical results between two sides in the history of the competition.
- Twenty-six of the last 27 goals scored in Premier League games between Crystal Palace and Spurs have been netted in the second half – there has been one first-half goal scored in the last 15 meetings.
- Crystal Palace are the only side this season yet to score a home Premier League goal excluding penalties.
- Tottenham have won more away Premier League games in 2018 than any other side (12). Only once have Spurs won more top-flight away games in a single calendar year (17 in 1960).
- Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has won nine Premier League games against Crystal Palace – more than he has managed against any other side.
- Tottenham have had 146 different goalscorers in the Premier League, more than any other team in the competition’s history (excluding own goals).
- Juan Foyth is the third Argentine to score for Spurs in the Premier League, after Erik Lamela and Mauricio Taricco.
‘So pleased’ – what they said
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BT Sport: “It was a very competitive game. It was an even game and it was tough. Before the game we were talking a lot about how difficult it is to play here.
“I’m so pleased because the team fought well under difficult circumstances and got the three points.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, speaking to Match of the Day: “The gap between us and the top teams isn’t that big – we’ve shown that in the last few games.
“The players aren’t allowing themselves to become disheartened. The attitude throughout was excellent today. In the last 20 or 30 minutes we were laying siege to the Tottenham goal. They will realise that it was quite a fortunate win.
“We go home very dejected because once again we have very little to show for our efforts.”
The international break means neither side are in action again for two weeks, with Crystal Palace playing away at Manchester United on Saturday, 24 November (15:00 GMT kick-off).
Tottenham have another London derby as they entertain Chelsea on the same day (17:30 GMT).