Roberto Soldado’s first half goal was enough to secure maximum points for Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday, the Spaniards counter-attacking strike replicating the one-nil scoreline from Cardiff City Stadium earlier in the season.
It was a match in which Spurs dominated possession, but could have ended differently if Steven Caulker’s header hadn’t struck the woodwork minutes after the opener. There were also signs of encouragement for the run-in based on the positive approach and solid team ethic shown against a top six opponent.
The result consolidated fifth place for Spurs and kept Cardiff in the bottom three, within three points of West Brom in seventeenth, albeit with City having played a game more. Focus now turns to an important fixture this coming Saturday at home to Fulham, with goals and points a priority heading into the final months.
Chronological Report:Spurs came out of the blocks quickly, camped mainly in the Cardiff City half in the opening five minutes. The main avenue of attack came on the right hand side as Aaron Lennon looked to cause problems for Declan John. Breaking beyond his man, Lennon twice fired in well placed crosses, though Soldado was unable to capitalise.
Cardiff then responded via the returning Craig Bellamy who dispossessed Andros Townsend to send Fabio chasing into the Spurs box. The Brazilian however was denied a clear chance on goal thanks to a timely intervention from Tottenham captain Michael Dawson.
As the home side pressed, their missed chances continued, including aerial efforts from the combination of Kyle Naughton crosses and Dawson headers came in quick succession.
After twenty eight minutes however the pressure paid off with a breakaway counter-attacking goal. Hugo Lloris punched Declan John's free-kick clear and Townsend raced into the Cardiff half, finding Emmanuel Adebayor on the left. The Spurs striker then served a precise ball for Soldado to meet with a deft touch to establish the lead.
Despite the set-back, Cardiff looked to respond immediately, pressing forward and winning a corner. Bellamy delivered the ball in to the area, though former Spurs defender Caulker was denied by the crossbar with his close-range header under pressure.
Next came Declan John on the left, racing through to force Lloris to stretch and parry before flicking the ball clear with his boot. Denied the chance, it ensured the hosts went in a goal in front at the interval.
HALF TIME: SPURS 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff looked to open the second half at high tempo, creating chances in the opening minutes. Looking to take the initiative, Bellamy's shot was initially blocked, leading to Dawson denying a Fraizer Campbell cross.
The home side remained a threat however, well-illustrated by Aron Lennon running clear, only for a perfectly timed tackle from Ben before a clear shot could be taken. Soon after, home supporters calls for a penalty were correctly ignored as Declan John brought Lennon down just outside the corner of the penalty area. Townsend hit the target from the free-kick, but Marshall was unfazed as he collected.
Cardiff continued to search for the equaliser, but were unable to create enough to fully test Lloris in the Spurs goal. Changes also came to add to the attacking impetus of the visitors, seeing Dhæhli, Mutch and Jones introduced as the minutes ticked on, though despite the endeavour no way through could be found.
The final chance of the game came to Spurs sub Harry Kane, denied one on one by David Marshall in the four minutes of added time.
The final whistle signalled a league double for Spurs, denying Cardiff much needed points ahead of the visit of Fulham six day later.
FULL TIME: SPURS 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Fryers; Lennon, Paulinho (Sandro, 72), Dembele, Townsend (Chadli, 70); Soldado (Kane, 83), Adebayor.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Fabio (Jones, 72), Caulker, Cala, Turner, John, Medel, Gunnarsson (Mutch, 63), Kim; Campbell, Bellamy (Daehli, 63). Subs not used: Lewis, Cowie, Theophile, Zaha.