Paulinho brings late heartbreak for CityA late winner from Paulinho consigned resilient Cardiff City to a 1-0 defeat, a first home loss at Cardiff City Stadium and gave Spurs all three points.
In a thrilling match in front of a record 27,815 attendance, the Bluebirds remained resolute for the majority of the game; 'keeper David Marshall more than responsible for keeping the scores level with a series of outstanding stops throughout.
Indeed, it set-up City to have opportunities themselves. Ben Turner had the ball in the net late in the first-half as he headed home a Peter Whittingham corner only to see it ruled out for a foul, with substitute Peter Odemwingie bending his second half effort just wide, almost making it a dream debut.
It therefore felt all to cruel as Paulinho finished well from close range deep into stoppage time, meeting an excellent low cross from Lamela to turn it home with the back of his heel and send the travelling Spurs fans into raptures.
Making two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Hull City at the KC Stadium last weekend, 'keeper David Marshall returned between the sticks with Craig Bellamy returning to captain the Bluebirds against Spurs.
And it was a frantic start at Cardiff City Stadium with chances at either end. Kevin Theophile-Catherine, making his home debut, was forced into an excellent clearing header with Sigurdsson lurking at the back post before a clear sight of goal came the way of Fraizer Campbell. Capitalising on a weak back pass from Michael Dawson, Campbell picked it up to go one-on-one with 'keeper Hugo Lloris only for the French International to stoop low to make the clearance with his hand, right on the edge of his penalty area.
Then came a supreme display of goalkeeping from the returning Marshall. As Spurs upped the pace, Marshall was forced into an excellent save from Soldado before denying Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson with equal quality just moments later. City were being forced to withstand a lot of pressure, but responded through Gary Medel who shot over the bar from 30 yards.
Deep into first-half stoppage time, City had the ball in the net only to see it ruled out by Referee Mark Clattenburg. Another excellent Peter Whittingham corner to the far post caused yet more problems for a Premier League defence as Turner headed it home only to see it ruled out for what looked to be minor contact on Spurs stopper Lloris.
HALF TIME - Cardiff City 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
With no changes for either side at the break it was City who looked to build on their momentum from their late first-half surge. Bellamy going on the charge from the whistle only to see his cross for Whittingham cut out by Lloris.
It acted as a wake up call for Spurs who regained the initiative through Icelandic International Gylfi Sigurdsson. His curling effort was denied only by the crossbar before Scottish International Marshall pulled off another fantastic save to deny Soldado on the rebound.
It was turning into a thriller at Cardiff City Stadium; a goal the only thing missing from a fantastic exhibition of Premier League football. And City's deadline day signing Odemwingie was given a taster of it as he came on for his debut, replacing fellow frontman Campbell just after the hour mark. He almost made the most of introduction immediately, turning inside Vertonghen only to bend his shot just wide of the near post to deny him a dream debut before turning provider for Aron Gunnarsson who volleyed over from in front of goal.
Eager for all three points, Spurs manager Andre Villas Boas introduced Erik Lamela, Harry Kane and Lewis Holtby for one last throw of the dice to claim the victory and unfortunately for the Bluebirds it came in the cruelest of fashions. Substitute Lamela picked the ball up on the right before crossing for the on-running Paulinho who back-heeled the ball into the back of the net from close range deep into stoppage time.
It secured the win for the visitors and ended the Bluebirds' resilience despite what was yet another fantastic performance from Malky Mackay's side in the top flight.
FULL TIME - Cardiff City 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Cardiff City: Marshall, Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Campbell, Kim, Gunnarsson, Theophile-Catherine, Bellamy. Subs not used: Lewis; Hudson, Odemwingie, Mutch, Cowie, Mason, Maynard.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Dembele, Paulinho; Townsend, Eriksen, Sigurdsson; Soldado. Subs not used: Friedel, Chiriches, Fryers, Holtby, Lamela, Sandro, Kane.
Attendance: 27,815 (Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff)