x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Tottenham and Roberto Soldado find some relief

Roberto Soldado’s first goal in nine games fired Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-0 victory on Sunday over struggling Cardiff City at White Hart Lane.

Roberto Soldado, left, ended personal two-month drought without a goal by providing the game winner in Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 win over Cardiff  on March 2, 2014.  Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
Roberto Soldado, left, ended personal two-month drought without a goal by providing the game winner in Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 win over Cardiff on March 2, 2014. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Roberto Soldado’s first goal in nine games fired Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-0 victory on Sunday over struggling Cardiff City at White Hart Lane.

The under-fire 28 year old ended his two-month drought with a cool first-half finish as Spurs edged past Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s relegation-threatened side.

Soldado’s relief was palpable as the £26 million (Dh159.9m) Valencia capture notched just his sixth goal in 29 Tottenham appearances.

Tim Sherwood’s Spurs consolidated fifth place in the Premier League table with their third win in four league games, although they remain four points behind fourth-place Manchester City, having played two games more.

Cardiff’s seventh consecutive Premier League defeat on the road leaves them one point and one place off the bottom of the table.

Soldado’s evident goal-shyness wracked the opening exchanges, with the Spanish striker wrestling unsuccessfully with two half-chances in three minutes.

Spurs twice sent Aaron Lennon in behind the Cardiff defence, with the England winger delivering accurate crosses both times.

First Soldado was unlucky not to direct his near-post header closer to the target, but on the second Lennon cross, he just overran the ball, failing to add any power as he nodded tamely at Cardiff keeper David Marshall.

Tottenham ended a slight lull with a devastating counter-attack, with Hugo Lloris punching clear Declan John’s free kick.

Townsend raced into the Cardiff half, fed Emmanuel Adebayor drifting out to the left, and the Togo striker laid on the perfect ball for Soldado.

All those goal troubles drifted away as the former Valencia poacher’s instincts rushed back. Soldado expertly touched home to hand Tottenham a deserved lead.

“We have been wishing it in for him, he’s settled in well and we are just delighted to see him score,” Spurs captain Michael Dawson told the BBC. “The fans have been behind him every step of the way and he is a top player.”

Chris Hughton said poor defending during a 15-minute first-half spell was the undoing of his side after Aston Villa staged a thrilling fightback to triumph 4-1 against Norwich City at Villa Park.

The visitors were off to a perfect start as Wes Hoolahan gave them a lead after just three minutes, but two efforts from Christian Benteke, a Leandro Bacuna strike and a Sebastien Bassong own goal blew the visitors away.

“For 25 minutes, we played very well,” Hughton told the BBC

“We quietened the crowd, and then in 15 minutes we couldn’t handle them. We had a bad period and there is no coming back from 4-1 down.

“We should have defended better. You can’t allow them to play balls in to Christian Benteke. As defenders, we have to deal with it, it’s part and parcel of the game. As a team, even at 2-1 down, we have to gather and make sure we stay in the game.

“But we didn’t. Their pace took over and it was 4-1 and there’s no coming back from that. It’s a mountain to climb.”

A dubious penalty rescued a point for Crystal Palace as they drew 1-1 with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

Chico Flores was sent off after bringing down substitute striker Glenn Murray late on, but the offence appeared to take place just outside the box.

Yet referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot and Murray converted in front of the travelling fans.

Jonathan de Guzman put the home side in front midway through a dominant first half.

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