It took 92 minutes for Tottenham Hotspur to get something out of this match, but they finally got it. Erik Lamela had an excellent run and fired in a beautiful cross that Paulinho backheeled past a stunned Cardiff City defense. It was a goal that Spurs deserved considering the sheer number of chances they had, but the Welsh side could feel slightly hard done by the result.
The first half was a weird sort of back and forth that saw Tottenham dominate for long stretches, but allow numerous dangerous attacks on the counter. The first came very early in the match and probably should have seen Hugo Lloris sent off for handling the ball outside of his area. The attack started as the result of an errant back pass from Kyle Naughton who did not look good in the first 45.
Tottenham certainly had their chances in the first half, taking 14 shots, six of which were on target. Roberto Soldado had an excellent chance from inside the box early in the half, but he hit it right at Cardiff's keeper, David Marshall. Christian Eriksen had a couple off good efforts as well, but he too was unable to beat Marshall. The half ended with another Lloris error. This time the French keeper took too much of a laissez-faire attitude and allowed a ball to go out for a corner. The resulting set piece ended up in the back of the net, but Ben Turner was adjudged to have fouled Michael Dawson in the process.
The second half was more of the same from both teams. Tottenham continued to batter Marshall's goal, but the Scottish keeper was more than equal to the task. In total Marshall made 11 saves in the match. Aron Gunnarsson had an excellent chance to put Cardiff in front, but he snatched at his chance and put it over.
In the closing minutes, with all still to play for, Tottenham threw on Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, and Lewis Holtby. All three performed will in their cameos, but it was Holtby and Lamela who finally made the difference. Holtby played exceedingly well and Lamela was part of the build up in the match winning goal.
Here's a few thoughts:
- I never want to see another half of football like that from Hugo Lloris ever again. That was like watching Gomes play. It was terrifying and I'm glad he got it together in the second half.
- Kyle Naughton is not good as a left back. He had two errors that could have led to Cardiff goals, but didn't. Danny Rose needs to get healthy because we cannot continue to rely on Naughton in the Premier League.
- I'm really over this whole Andros Townsend thing. He's predictable and really hinders the way Tottenham want to play. When Lamela came on and moved over to the right we saw Spurs really come alive. Proponents of Townsend will point to his six shots, but so many of the shots are wasteful and right at the keeper. I'd be perfectly happy if Andros didn't start a Premier League game for a while.
- Soldado just isn't finishing chances like he did in La Liga. I think he's rushing it and not taking time to be clinical. If he gets it together Spurs are going to be even more dangerous.
- You've got to hand it to Marshall. That was a top class goalkeeping performance. This match could have easily been 3 or 4 to nothing, but Marshall kept his team in it.
- I don't like the midfield of Paulinho and Dembele away from home, but both of them played really well, especially in the second half when Spurs picked up the pressure. Demebele, especially, looked really good winning the ball high up the pitch and starting attacks. Paulinho, of course, scored the goal.