LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho blamed a “lot of mistakes” rather than his intention to protect an early lead as Premier League leaders Tottenham were held 1-1 by Crystal Palace on Sunday (Dec 13).
A point keeps Spurs on top by a point but they could be usurped later on Sunday by Liverpool ahead of a clash between the two at Anfield on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s men were punished by Jeffrey Schlupp’s equaliser nine minutes from time for not building on Harry Kane’s 15th goal of the season to open the scoring on 23 minutes.
Tottenham are now unbeaten in 11 league games, but will feel they let two points get away in their quest for a first league title in 60 years as Vicente Guaita made amends with brilliant late stops to deny Kane and Eric Dier a winner.
Questions will be asked, though, of why the visitors took their foot off the gas for nearly an hour between the opener and Schlupp’s equaliser.
“We lost two points. If I look to the last 10 minutes of the game, yes, if I look at the first 45 minutes, yes, but from 45 to 75 minutes we couldn’t play or build from the back and we made lots of mistakes,” said Mourinho.
“Against Palace, the way they play you need the ball, you need to create because if not they are the sort of team that put the long ball into the box and what can happen, happened.
“I am never OK with a point, every game we go to win and if sometimes we don’t win it because of credit to the opponent and sometimes it is because we should do better. Today I think it was a bit of both.” Guaita was at fault as Kane’s speculative long-range effort saw him wrong-footed for the opener.
An assist from Son Heung-min made it the 12th time Kane and Son have combined for a Premier League goal this season, already just one off the record tally set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in Blackburn’s title-winning campaign of 1994/95.
In true Mourinho fashion, Spurs then sat back to protect their lead and break out on the counter-attack.
The visitors were nearly punished just before half-time when Eberechi Eze’s curling effort came back off the post.
Urged on by 2,000 fans inside Selhurst Park for the first time since March and under torrential rain, Palace continued to push after the break.
Schlupp wasted a huge opening when he skewed well wide from close range as Spurs struggled to clear a free-kick before Christian Benteke should have done better when he headed over when unmarked from a corner.
Palace’s pressure was finally rewarded thanks to another goalkeeping error as Hugo Lloris failed to collect Eze’s in-swinging free-kick and Schlupp was in the right place to sweep the ball into the net for the first league goal Tottenham have conceded in six games.
“It was important we showed the fans what a good team we are and we gave them a performance and a spectacle,” said Palace manager Roy Hodgson.
“It was their first game for a long time and we have sent them home happy. It is a good day all round.” Spurs suddenly surged forward and only two outstanding saves from Guaita denied them all three points as he firstly got down low to his left to parry Kane’s header.
And deep into stoppage time, Guaita somehow reached Dier’s free-kick that was heading for the top corner.