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Vertonghen's touch the difference in game of too many ineffectual passes

Andre Villas-Boas's Tottenham Hotspur team will pass you to death given half the chance, but when it came down to brass tacks yesterday, the match was decided by a free-kick into the box that landed at the feet of a centre-back.

Jan Vertonghen, below, got there in the end, neatly finishing Kyle Walker's cross from the right that fell to him via Michu's misjudged clearing header. The goal had nothing of the grace of some of Spurs' intricate passing patterns but, goodness me, it did the trick.

It is the great legacy of the all-conquering Barcelona team of the era: thou shalt pass, and in the case of Spurs and Swansea, thou shalt pass a hell of a lot. There were some magnificent moves from Spurs that went backwards and sideways and forwards, when you lost count of how many times they had moved possession on, but as the second half wore on it seemed like amid all this grand football they might forget to score.

There is so much talent in this Spurs side and fourth place in the table, where they find themselves this morning, feels just about right. Villas-Boas lamented missed opportunities but he praised his team's steady grip on the game. "I think if one team was going to win, it was going to be us. We had lots of opportunities – 23 shots, the bigger share of possession – and we were very patient and persistent in what we were doing. We kept moving the ball well," he said.

The game's only moment of controversy came when Hugo Lloris and Michu challenged for an awkward high-bouncing ball in injury-time at the end of the game and the Spanish striker came off much the worse, lying motionless on the turf while play moved up the other end. Chaos broke out on the two benches. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup and his assistants were furious with the referee Mike Dean for not stopping the game as substitute Andros Townsend ran through on goal.

Some of the Spurs staff misinterpreted Swansea's reaction as a penalty appeal and reacted angrily. On the pitch Chico Flores, the Swansea defender, locked horns with Townsend for playing on and then Walker stepped in on his team-mate's behalf with a clenched fist.

Mercifully, Michu clambered to his feet and carried on, although for a good few moments there were serious concerns about him. It was, the goal aside, the one moment in the game when there was a spark of contention amid long periods of good-quality passing but low-quality finishing from both sides.