Tottenham Hotspur 1 Cardiff City 0 match report: Roberto Soldado’s relief is clear to see after finally rewarding Tim Sherwood's faith

Spaniard had gone eight matches without a goal for Tottenham

White Hart Lane

The relief surging through Roberto Soldado could not have been clearer. Having scored the goal that ultimately won this game, the Spaniard sunk his head into his hands and collected himself before taking the embraces of the swarming fans in the Park Lane stand, and his gleeful team-mates.

That goal was Soldado’s first for nine long and difficult weeks, during which time he had slipped out of the Tottenham Hotspur team, and the wisdom of paying £24million for him last summer had been questioned.

But there are still reservoirs of goodwill for Soldado here at White Hart Lane, not least from the fans, and Tim Sherwood started with him up front alongside Emmanuel Adebayor. Sherwood was rewarded for his faith with the goal that earned Spurs three more Premier League points, keeping them in fifth, five points clear of Everton.

Sherwood, who led the ovation for Soldado at the end, was as thrilled for him as anyone. “If I could have picked anyone to score the winning goal it would have been him,” the Tottenham manager said. “You could see how much it meant to him. We know what he’s capable of. He’s not given me any reason to leave him out. I’ve stuck by him and I believe he will come good. I just hope this is a platform for him to go on and score 20 goals between now and the end of the season.”

The goal came after 28 minutes, as Tottenham broke following one of Cardiff’s few forays forward. Andros Townsend surged through the middle and played the ball left to Adebayor. The Togolese striker paused then passed into the path of Soldado, who had ghosted away from Aron Gunnarsson and Gary Medel. Soldado – who, as Sherwood said, still “had a lot to do” – did not break his stride, the first cushion touch was delightful, the second clinical.

 

It was the sole moment of quality in an otherwise unremarkable game. Sherwood fielded an attacking team, with two strikers and two wingers, but they created little against a Cardiff team who were desperate to defend far better than they did when Hull City put four past them last weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes from that side, and switched to a 5-3-2 system which made them less permeable than they have been recently. Unfortunately for Solskjaer, Cardiff created even less than Spurs and they are still second from bottom, with at least four points to make up if they are to avoid relegation.

The visitors’ plan was to sit deep and play on the break, and, with the pace of Craig Bellamy, Fraizer Campbell and Fabio da Silva, it might have worked. Solskjaer was pleased with the overall performance and understandably so. “In the first half, we caused them massive problems on the counter at times,” he said. “I was pleased with the team effort, we looked like a team again, a proper team that played for each other.”

The Cardiff manager revealed that club owner Vincent Tan – who attended the match – had been in to talk to the players the night before the game, and that they appreciated his attention. “You can see the effect on the players, we were pleased to see him. This run-in requires every single one of us that has got a Bluebird heart, a Cardiff heart, everyone from fans, to players, workers in the canteen, laundry, up to Mr Tan, to stick together.”

Craig Bellamy fends off Tottenham's Ezekiel Fryers (GETTY) Craig Bellamy fends off Tottenham's Ezekiel Fryers (GETTY) As hard as Cardiff worked, they did not look like scoring – beyond Steven Caulker’s header onto the bar straight after Soldado’s goal – and they have not hit the back of the net in the league for 400 minutes. “If you want to win a game you have to score goals. It’s about that dedication, that need, that urge to get on the end of crosses,” Solskjaer said.

Neither side, in truth, showed much of that for the rest of the game. Hugo Lloris had one real save to make, from Declan John at the near post, just before the interval. The second half was even quieter, with neither side offering much going forward. “It wasn’t great,” admitted Sherwood, “but our record is so poor after Europa League games to get over the line and win ugly is important.”

Harry Kane, who came on for Soldado, should have made it 2-0 in added time, running onto Nacer Chadli’s pass, but he could only shoot straight at David Marshall. Thanks to Soldado, it did not matter.

Tottenham (4-4-2) Lloris 6; Naughton 6, Dawson 8, Vertonghen 6, Fryers 6; Lennon 6, Paulinho 6 (Sandro, 72), Dembele 7, Townsend 6 (Chadli, 70); Soldado 8 (Kane, 83), Adebayor 6

Cardiff (5-3-2) Marshall 6; Fabio 5 (Jones, 72), Caulker 7, Cala 7, Turner 6, John 6; Medel 5, Gunnarsson 5 (Mutch, 63, 5), Kim 6; Campbell 6, Bellamy 7 (Daehli, 63, 6)

Match rating: 3/10

Man of the Match: Soldado

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee