A valiant endeavour from Cardiff City was not enough to stop Spurs from grabbing the win on a chilly afternoon at Wembley.
With the odds heavily in Spurs’ favour, the away side kicked off by immediately having a shot at goal from the halfway line. The audacious attempt was not on target, but both teams were demonstrating an attacking attitude in the opening stages.
Eight minutes in, Tottenham found the net from a poorly defended corner. A small scramble in the box meant that Eric Dier could capitalise on a loose ball to grab one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score. The Englishman has been under some criticism of late for some poor form, but this goal will certainly boost his confidence, even if was just a sitter.
After this, Spurs continued to dominate, with Lucas and Son looking extremely promising when sprinting forward. Lucas, in particular, showed some spectacular dribbling ability to get around the Cardiff defence in style.
But just after the twenty-minute mark, Cardiff had a golden opportunity to equalise. A through ball looked like it should’ve been claimed by Lloris, but a lack of communication meant that Murphy was through on goal. His chipped effort beat the keeper, but Alderweireld got back just in time to clear off the line.
This chance seemed to completely change the run of play in the away side’s favour, and Spurs were having trouble getting the ball out of their own half for a good ten minutes or so.
1-0 was the score as the half-time whistle blew, but in reality either side could have had at least two goals a piece, with Cardiff perhaps unfortunate to draw a blank in the first half.
In the 58th minute, it went from bad to worse for Cardiff City, as Joe Ralls was sent off for what looked like a cynical but unmalicious foul. What really should have been a yellow card was deemed to be a red card offence by Mike Dean. Cardiff were well in the game up to this point, and will feel incredibly hard done by after this decision.
Nevertheless, Cardiff kept threatening an equaliser, and at one point Lloris had to push Morrison’s header onto the post from a free kick.
The Lilywhites held their ground to pick up a sixth win of the season. The Wembley crowd were given an uncomfortable afternoon but Cardiff couldn’t find their fifth goal of the season.
Lucas Tottenham’s most important player
The timely return to fitness of Tottenham’s new talisman has benefited the Lilywhites greatly this season. With injuries to Alli and Eriksen, Lucas’ importance in the squad has become increasingly apparent as he has claimed a spot in the starting eleven.
Spurs’ front four has tremendous depth in terms of the amount of talented players at their disposal, and the fact that Lucas has featured in every one of Tottenham’s ten games this season (starting nine of them) is a huge credit to the Brazilian.
Today we saw why Pochettino admires the forward so much – his dribbling was stunning and he rarely lost the ball in either his own half or Cardiff’s, posing a real threat as he broke forward with his attacking teammates.
Are Spurs too fancy going forward?
Tottenham really should have had this game in the bag during the second half, but the amount of times they surged forward with no end product is an area of concern for Pochettino.
With the technical ability that some of the front four possess, there is no reason why their attacks should result in so many loose passes and frustrating miscontrols that lose them possession.
Having said this, Cardiff did defend bravely given the situation and should be given credit for stopping Spurs from running away with the game.
When in and around the box, Spurs were guilty of overplaying the ball and looking for little flicks and tricks that weren’t really on. A bit more composure up front and Cardiff could have had a hammering on their hands.
Glimmers of hope for Cardiff
Cardiff have plenty of positives to take from this match, despite now losing four league games in a row. Tottenham never looked comfortable with their slender lead and Cardiff created some excellent opportunities to score.
Whatever it is that’s preventing Cardiff from taking their chances, there’s no reason to assume that it will continue for the rest of the season. Even with ten men, the Bluebirds showed great spirit to set up some golden chances that, on another day, could have given them at least a point.
Therefore this result should give them some confidence going into their next match, welcoming Fulham to the Cardiff City Stadium next Saturday, while Spurs face West Ham away from home.
Man of the Match – Davinson Sanchez
Spurs’ record signing showed his worth today with another set of well timed tackles in a performance that justified the amount of game time he is currently getting. The Colombian is competing with the likes of Vertonghen and Alderweireld – a huge accolade for Sanchez.