Football: Late Puncheon blow gives Crystal Palace's Pardew dream start

LONDON (AFP) - Alan Pardew made the perfect start on his return to Crystal Palace as manager by overseeing a 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.

Pardew was taking charge of his first league game since leaving Newcastle United to join the club he represented as a player.

Palace's prospects of claiming a first win in nine league games looked bleak when Harry Kane fired Spurs ahead in the 48th minute.

But a 68th-minute Dwight Gayle penalty, awarded after Benjamin Stambouli upended Joe Ledley, drew Palace level before Jason Puncheon's 80th-minute finish inflicted a first defeat on Spurs in seven league games.

Pardew's aims are hardly ambitious, with the new manager making it clear he would be satisfied if Palace finished the season one place above the bottom three.

The Palace manager is hoping to engineer a recovery during the second half of the season similar to that overseen by Tony Pulis at Selhurst Park 12 months previously.

Such was Palace's transformation under Pulis that they recovered from a seemingly hopeless position to finish 11th and the Welshman's efforts were rewarded with the Premier League's Manager of the Year award.

Pardew admits there is little chance of the club staging a carbon-copy repeat and admitted in his programme notes that his approach to the game differs slightly to that of Pulis.

The new man knows, however, that if Palace are to survive he must emulate Pulis' success in making Selhurst Park an uncomfortable place to visit.

The south London club had recorded just two league win on home turf before this game and Pardew was desperate to maintain his honeymoon period with victory.

The prospects of a morale-boosting home win looked remote during the opening 20 minutes when Tottenham took early control of the game.

Pardew had been cheered to the dug-out, but his team's performance initially failed to match the mood.


The hosts should have been facing a much tougher task when Kyle Walker whipped in a 22nd-minute cross towards Christian Eriksen.

The Dane was well positioned eight yards out, but he somehow managed to steer his shot wide.

The chance at least appeared to have the effect of sparking life into the home side and Pardew was entitled to feel frustrated they were not leading at the break.

James McArthur had spurned a good chance to head Palace in front from Gayle's left-wing cross and 10 minutes before the break, Glenn Murray spurned an even better opportunity.

Murray was making his first league appearance since returning to the club from a four-month loan at Reading.

But he spurned a chance to celebrate his return with a goal when Hugo Lloris raced out to save after the striker had been sent clear on goal.

Palace's disappointment was compounded three minutes after the restart when Kane showed why he has become one of the most talked-about strikers in England this season.

The forward had been quiet in the first half, but found space on the edge of Palace's penalty area and drilled a low, right-foot shot beyond Julian Speroni and into the bottom-left corner.

After their recent impressive run, which included a 5-3 rout of Chelsea on New Year's Day, Tottenham should have moved through the gears and killed the game off.

But Palace showed impressive resilience to work their way back into the game.

They levelled after Stambouli was adjudged to have fouled Ledley after sliding in, allowing Gayle to equalise from the spot.

The momentum was with Palace and with Wilfried Zaha causing problems after coming on for Murray, they went ahead in 80th minute when the winger set up Puncheon, who fired home left-footed from 16 yards out.

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