Tottenham Hotspur secured a vital Boxing Day victory thanks to a goal and two assists from Lucas Moura, as their pursuit of the Premier League’s top-four continued to gather momentum with a 3-0 defeat of ten-man Crystal Palace at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Coming into the contest on the back of a five-match unbeaten record in the league since Antonio Conte took the reins, ‘Spurs’ started on the front foot. Always a danger, Son Heung-min nearly found an early breakthrough, when his sharp strike was tipped around the post by Jack Butland in the Palace goal. The hosts continued to stamp their authority on proceedings, with Oliver Skipp dragging an effort wastefully wide and Lucas directing a delicate header just beyond Butland’s far post.
The ‘Eagles’, without manager Patrick Vieira on the sidelines due to a positive Covid-19 test, failed to pose much of a threat to ‘Spurs’ in the opening 30 minutes, and deservedly found themselves behind in the 32nd minute. Humiliating Palace defender James Tomkins for pace, Lucas sprinted away from his marker, before squaring the ball across the box for Harry Kane to clinically dispatch the ball into the net.
Buoyed by the opener, Spurs quickly doubled their advantage when the marauding Emerson Royal delivered an inviting cross into the box, and Lucas rose bravely above Joachim Andersen to power home a header from a few yards out. Things soon got worse for Palace before HT, when Wilfried Zaha was dismissed for a second yellow card after losing his temper and hauling Davinson Sánchez to the ground.
The second half began in the same vein as the first, with the 10 men of Palace fighting valiantly against a relentless Spurs attack. However, the third finally arrived with 15 minutes left on the clock, when Son raced into the box at the near post and cleverly flicked a Lucas delivery beyond Butland into the net, adding further gloss to the scoreline.
Despite this comfortable victory, Tottenham remain six points away from fourth-placed Arsenal, but with Conte’s men boasting three games in hand over their local rivals, North London looks set to become the scene of an almighty battle for UEFA Champions League football in 2022.