Spurs stunned by Palace as FA Cup holders Chelsea ease past Wednesday

LONDON (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur suffered their second defeat in English knockout football in a matter of days as they lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday night.

Connor Wickham gave the unfancied Eagles, 29 points adrift of Spurs in the Premier League, a ninth-minute lead before a penalty by former Tottenham winger Andros Townsend made it 2-0.

Spurs’ Kieran Trippier missed with a penalty before half-time as Tottenham suffered more spot-kick woe following Thursday’s shoot-out defeat by Chelsea, another of their London rivals, in a League Cup semi-final.

FA Cup-holders Chelsea had no such problems later on Sunday as they marked Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain’s club debut with a 3-0 win at home to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

Willian scored twice either side of a goal from highly-rated English teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi, linked with a transfer window move to German giants Bayern Munich.

There was no goal for Higuain, signed on loan until the end of the season from Juventus.

But Gianfranco Zola, Chelsea’s assistant manager and himself a former Blues striker, told the BBC, “We are pleased with Gonzalo Higuain’s performance, he was trying to find the space and get on the ball.

Chelsea players celebrate their goal against Sheffield Wednesday
Tottenham’s Juan Foyth fights for the ball with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. – PHOTOS: AP

“It wasn’t easy as they had a lot of players round him.”

Earlier, Tottenham’s reverse left Mauricio Pochettino still searching for his first trophy as their manager since the Argentinian joined from Southampton in 2014, with Spurs’ last piece of silverware the 2008 League Cup.

Spurs were without injured England stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while the in-form Son Heung-Min had still to return from international duty with South Korea at the Asia Cup.

Pochettino, however, decided to omit Christian Eriksen, with the influential playmaker not even among Spurs’ substitutes at Selhurst Park.

For all they are third in the Premier League, Spurs are nine points adrift of leaders Liverpool.

The Champions League is now Tottenham’s only realistic hope of a trophy this season, with Pochettino’s men playing Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.

“It was so painful to lose the game like this,” Pochettino told BT Sport.

“We have to look forward to the Premier League and Champions League. We cannot complain and just try in the two competitions to give our best.”