Tottenham 1-0 Cardiff City: Soldado strike enough for three points

The Spaniard put an end to his nine-match barren run with a clinical strike from Emmanuel Adebayor's cross on 28 minutes to keep Spurs' top-four hopes alive
Roberto Soldado broke his scoring duck as Tottenham kept their top-four challenge alive with an unconvincing victory over Cardiff City at White Hart Lane.

Having taken just 10 points from the nine league matches that have immediately followed Europa League ties this season, Spurs built on their 3-1 win over Dnipro on Thursday with a hard-fought victory.

Tim Sherwood's men took the lead through Soldado after 28 minutes as the Spaniard found the net for the first time since December 29.

Strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor selflessly opted to play the Spaniard in before Soldado took a touch and fired the ball past David Marshall with the outside of his right boot.

By Jay Jaffa

Tottenham made such hard work of this win, labouring in midfield, passing poorly and defending sloppily but crucially coming away with three points.

For Cardiff, you can't help but feel that if they had been more positive there was something to be gained from this trip to White Hart Lane.

The 5-3-2 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer employed stifled Tottenham for the most part but it was incredibly surprising to see him refuse to remove a defender for an attacker.

Still, the Bluebirds had chances and Steven Caulker will be rue seeing his header crash off the bar with Hugo Lloris stranded. You can view the result in two ways when analysing both teams. The Welsh side can take plenty of positives but again, the result is all wrong; they're sinking towards the trapdoor.

Tim Sherwood cut a frustrated figure on the touchline but he'll know the win was all that mattered. Given it came after a high-octane Thursday night win over Dnipro, this must be valued, however the manner of victory will be scrutinised.

Spurs barely created a chance other than Roberto Soldado's well-taken goal and they looked incredibly vulnerable at times. Plenty for both managers to consider.

It proved to be the only goal of the game as 19th-placed Cardiff - without an away league win since September - saw their relegation fears heightened.

Aaron Lennon, one of two Spurs changes, was quick to make an impact, providing a cross after just a minute that Soldado was only able to divert wide.

Craig Bellamy, making his return from a three-match suspension, then whistled a free-kick over the crossbar before laying on an opportunity for Fabio, whose shot was well blocked by Michael Dawson.

Andros Townsend was next to threaten during an open first 15 minutes, forcing Marshall into action with a low, driven effort.

After seeing Dawson go close with a volley and a header from a corner, Tottenham continued to dominate possession and were soon rewarded.

Soldado showed his quality to latch on to Adebayor's pass, calmly control the ball and place it home to register his first goal of 2014. 

Steven Caulker almost levelled against his former club, crashing a header against the crossbar from Bellamy's corner, and Declan John stung the palms of Hugo Lloris three minutes before the break to offer a reminder Cardiff were still in the contest.

Lennon almost weaved his way through the visiting backline five minutes into the second half and continued to cause problems, drawing a foul from John just outside the penalty area. 

Townsend tested Marshall with the resulting free-kick and the goalkeeper denied substitute Harry Kane late on, although it mattered little as Cardiff failed to find a leveller. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who visit bottom club Fulham on Saturday, remain three points off West Brom in 17th, having played a game more than Pepe Mel's men.

For Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood, the win represents an ideal tonic ahead of Premer League clashes with London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea later this month, as well as a Europa League tie against Benfica.