July 26, 2020 / 5:37 PM / 11 days ago

Tottenham seal Europa League spot with draw at Palace

LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane ended a disjointed season on a high by scoring in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday that ensured his side will play in the Europa League next season.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - July 26, 2020 Crystal Palace's Jeffrey Schlupp scores their first goal, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Ian Walton

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-0 defeat at Chelsea allowed Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side to leapfrog the Midlands club on goal difference into sixth spot which guarantees European football.

Kane’s clinical finish after 13 minutes was his fifth goal in three matches but it was not enough to hand Spurs a fourth successive win as Palace hit back strongly.

Jeffrey Schlupp’s equaliser early in the second half ensured Palace avoided an eighth successive league defeat and they perhaps should have gone on to win the match.

When the season went into a three-month lockdown in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kane was still recovering from a serious hamstring injury sustained on Jan. 1.

Early on in the restart he looked off the pace but the England striker has burst back into form since.

While a Europa League spot was some consolation for Spurs it will not disguise the fact the the club, who parted ways with manager Mauricio Pochettino in November, have ended up on 59 points, their lowest total in the Premier League for a decade.

Tottenham were 14th Portuguese coach Mourinho replaced Pochettino, however, and there are some signs of progress.

“After lockdown maybe we finished third or fourth in the table,” Mourinho said. “That is where we belong.”

His Spurs side began in purposeful fashion and took the lead when Giovani Lo Celso played the ball in to Kane who took a touch before flashing a right-foot shot inside the post before Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita could set himself.

It was Kane’s 31st goal in Premier League London derbies, a tally bettered only by Thierry Henry (43), Teddy Sheringham (32) and Frank Lampard (32).

Palace responded well though and Schlupp had a chance to equalise but he shot straight at Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham’s tempo dropped at the start of the second half and Palace equalised in the 53rd minute when they failed to deal with a corner and the ball fell for Schlupp who fired high through a mass of players into the roof of the net.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson will now spend the brief close season trying to bolster an attack which managed only 31 league goals, the lowest total apart from bottom club Norwich City.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris

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