Alli stakes Euro claim with stunner

LONDON • Dele Alli took another step towards booking a starting place at Euro 2016 when he scored a goal-of-the-season contender in Tottenham's 3-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace in front of England coach Roy Hodgson.

The 19-year-old midfielder, pursued by Liverpool but grabbed by Spurs for what now looks a bargain £5 million (S$10.2 million) in February, struck after 84 minutes on Saturday to put the visitors 2-1 ahead.

Alli, who spent last season on loan at MK Dons, evoked memories of White Hart Lane greats Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne with the skill he produced.

Standing 25 metres out, he controlled a header from Christian Eriksen before delicately flicking the ball over his head to beat Palace defender Mile Jedinak and then smashing a low volley past 'keeper Wayne Hennessey.

The goal drew admiration from former Tottenham star Gareth Bale, now of Real Madrid, who tweeted: "What a goal that is!"

SCORING ON INSTINCT

It all came naturally. It was a great ball and I just took a touch and hit it. I didn't have time to think. I didn't know what to do with my celebration.

DELE ALLI (above), on his superb volleyed goal against Crystal Palace.

Hoddle also took to Twitter, describing the goal as a "piece of art".

"It all came naturally," Alli, who recently signed a new five-year contract, told Sky Sports after his sixth goal of the season.

"It was a great ball and I just took a touch and hit it. I didn't have time to think. I didn't know what to do with my celebration."

A Jan Vertonghen own goal put Palace in front before Spurs hit back through Harry Kane, Alli and another superb long-range strike by substitute Nacer Chadli with almost the last kick of the game.

"It was a fantastic goal (by Alli) and it showed his quality," said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. "It is a goal that will be seen around the world on television.

"We knew he was a player of unbelievable potential but today, he showed unbelievable maturity and quality."

Alli also struck the bar in the closing minutes, while Palace too hit the woodwork twice in five seconds through Scott Dann and Mile Jedinak in the second half.

Palace manager Alan Pardew, whose team had not scored in their five previous league matches, heaped praise on Alli.

"It was a great goal," said Pardew.

"It was horrible to watch and I don't often say that about a beautiful goal. As soon as he flicked the ball over his head, I feared the worst. It was a great moment for him and he is a great talent."

Hodgson, at Selhurst Park to watch 10 Englishmen start a league match, has handed Alli four England caps this season.

With one stunning goal for his country already against France in November, he is now a serious option to start at the European Championship in France in June.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Alli stakes Euro claim with stunner'. Print Edition | Subscribe