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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Eric Dier goal enough for Tottenham to see off 10-man Cardiff at Wembley

Joe Ralls shown straight red card for second-half challenge on Lucas Moura as Welsh club go bottom of the table

Referee Mike Dean shows Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls a red card for a tackle on Tottenham forward Lucas Moura. Reuters
Referee Mike Dean shows Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls a red card for a tackle on Tottenham forward Lucas Moura. Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur recorded a third successive win in the Premier League as Cardiff City finished the match at Wembley with 10 men after midfielder Joe Ralls was shown a straight red card for a cynical challenge on Lucas Moura.

Spurs took an early lead when Eric Dier took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to lash home after only eight minutes, but the game's major talking point was the red card shown by referee Mike Dean to Ralls just before the hour mark that left Cardiff manager fuming as Tottenham players surrounded the official.

Cardiff responded well to falling behind with only eight minutes played with Toby Alderweireld forced to clear off his line after Josh Murphy lifted the ball over Hugo Lloris, the Spurs defender getting the ball away before Junior Hoilett could follow up.

A Harry Kane header forced Neil Etheridge into action early in the second half with Moura's rebound cleared off the line by Joe Bennett.

Then came Ralls' lunge on Moura that was more crude than crunching. The Brazilian was a full 40 yards from goal when the Cardiff midfielder scythed him down as they chased a ball down the touchline. Kane was booked in the aftermath, with Warnock incensed by what he saw as an effort by Tottenham players to influence Dean's decision.

"I don't think the Mike Dean would have given a red card by himself, I think there were too many voices around him that changed his mind," Warnock told BBC Sport.

"Players and officials all want to get in on the act and make headlines, but it's little old Cardiff isn't it? When I look at Danny Rose's challenge on Bruno Manga, that is worse in terms of violent conduct.

"But we kept our discipline and we kept going, so there were lots of positives. To see Spurs keep it in the corner against 10 men shows how well we did."

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Despite the numerical advantage, Cardiff threatened to equalise with Lloris called on to pull off a stunning save to turn a Callum Paterson header on to the post, although that was as close as Warnock's men would get to levelling the scores.

Spurs were far from their best, but following on from the midweek Uefa Champions League defeat to Barcelona, the result was the only thing that mattered for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

"After Barcelona on Wednesday, the most important thing was to win," Pochettino told BBC Sport. "We created a lot of chances but we didn't kill the game. I'm happy to finish with 18 points going into the international break. We only conceded a few chances and we finished the game on top.

"We are one point off the top of the Premier League but we need to improve a lot. Now we have two weeks before the next game but it is a very tough schedule when we return. We hope that more of our players will be available after the break."

Tottenham's 18 points from their first eight league games equals a club record to move them up to third in the table. Cardiff are bottom on two points still searching for their first win since returning to the top flight.