LONDON, England (AFP) – New signing Roberto Soldado proved there is life without Gareth Bale by giving Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 win at promoted Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener on Sunday.
Bale, strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid, was absent with a foot injury, but a 50th-minute penalty from ??26 million ($40.4 million, 30.4 million euros) club record signing Soldado meant Spurs did not miss him.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas gave league debuts to Soldado, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli, and his side largely controlled the first half beneath bright summer sunshine at Selhurst Park.
Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni had to tip a dipping Gylfi Sigurdsson shot over the bar and then thwart Soldado at his near post, while Chadli headed over from a deep Aaron Lennon cross in first-half stoppage time.
The breakthrough arrived five minutes into the second half, with Soldado adroitly sending Speroni the wrong way from 12 yards after Dean Moxey blocked Lennon's cross with a flailing hand.
Another of Spurs' new recruits, French midfielder Etienne Capoue, made his entrance as a 57th-minute substitute.
Palace manager Ian Holloway threw on Jonathan Williams, new signing Marouane Chamakh and veteran striker Kevin Phillips, but Hugo Lloris saved from Damien Delaney and Kagisho Dikgacoi and the visitors survived.
Later on Sunday, the Premier League will witness the return of Jose Mourinho, who begins his second spell as manager of Chelsea with a home game against promoted Hull City.
The charismatic and controversial Portuguese led Chelsea to two league titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups between 2004 and 2007 before leaving for spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Defending champions Manchester United moved to the top of the fledgling standings with a 4-1 win at Swansea City on Saturday's opening day, in what was David Moyes' first league game as manager.
Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger apologised to the club's fans after a 3-1 loss at home to Aston Villa.