Brazilian Lucas Moura inspired Tottenham Hotspur to a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace that stretched their unbeaten Premier League run under new manager Antonio Conte to six games in murky north London on Sunday.
Moura created goals for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and bagged one for himself as Tottenham comfortably beat a Palace side for whom manager Patrick Vieira missed the game because of a positive COVID-19 test.
While victory moved Tottenham up to fifth in the table, it proved a dispiriting day for Palace, who faded after a decent start and were reduced to 10 men in the 37th minute when Wilfried Zaha was sent off for a needless second yellow-card offence.
By that time Tottenham were well in control after Kane swept in from Moura’s pass before Moura headed the second.
Son wrapped up the Boxing Day win with his side’s third from close range in the 74th minute.
Tottenham have 29 points, six less than fourth-placed Arsenal but have played three games fewer after having two matches postponed this month because of COVID-19.
Conte has changed the vibe at Tottenham since taking over from Nuno Espirito Santo, and this latest victory provided further proof that his methods are paying off as his side avenged a 3-0 defeat at Palace in September.
“We started a bit slow but created chances to score. We improved the quality and the intensity and scored twice and for sure when we played against 10 men it was easier,” Conte said.
“Now we have to recover and make the best decision around our starting 11 for Southampton (on Tuesday). It won’t be easy for us or other teams to play after two days.”
It took them a while to get into their stride, however, with Kane almost invisible until the 32nd minute when the lively Moura sped down the right wing and looked up before pulling back a pass for the England skipper to fire in a right-footed shot.
Two minutes later Moura was in the thick of the action again, seizing possession and playing in Kane who in turn slid an astute ball into the path of Emerson Royal. Royal then crossed and Moura steamed in to the area to power in a header.
Things got even worse for Palace shortly afterwards when Zaha, who had already been booked, needlessly shoved Davinson Sanchez as they tussled for the ball near the touchline.
Tottenham substituted Kane after an hour and played most of the second half in cruise control as the game petered out, but Moura completed a superb individual display when he crossed for Son to score with a silky touch.
Palace, who are 12th, failed to register a shot on target.
“The two goals and the red card changed the game. We knew it would be difficult with 11 men on the pitch, but it made it even more difficult after the red card,” Crystal Palace assistant manager Osian Roberts said.