Roberto Soldado finally gets back on scoresheet as Tottenham scrape past Cardiff
Striker's goal keeps Londoners' hopes of Champions League place alive
Roberto Soldado ended his personal goal-drought and kept Tottenham Hotspur’s fast-fading hopes of a top four place alive with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Cardiff City at White Hart Lane.
Sunday’s win helped consolidate Tottenham’s hold on fifth place, although they remain four points adrift of Manchester City, who lie fourth having played two games fewer than Spurs.
“It’s a huge ask [qualifying for the Champions League] but one we have to believe in,” Spurs manager Tim Sherwood said.
“It is more difficult than ever because there is so much competition at the top of the table but we are looking upwards rather than behind us.”
For Cardiff, a seventh successive away league defeat leaves Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side second bottom, three points off safety, and capped a week in which Malaysian owner Vincent Tan again reiterated his threats to sell the club if supporters continued to object to his regime.
Soldado had been under growing pressure after failing to score in eight previous games, amid reports his spell at Tottenham could end after just one season.
But the striker justified the faith shown in him by Sherwood – whose own future has been thrown into doubt after Dutch national coach Louis van Gaal was linked with a move to White Hart Lane – with the decisive first-half goal that built on the midweek Europa League victory over Dnipro.
The arrival of Solksjaer as successor to the popular Malky Mackay has failed to transform Cardiff’s fortunes, although the new manager received the backing of Tan earlier this week.
And former Manchester United striker Solskjaer said he was heartened by Cardiff’s performance in north London.
“It was a big improvement; that was a team, a team who believed in what we are doing who had a real go,” he said.
“It was a poor goal to concede, it was our free-kick and a counter attack against us. But those are those margins that go against you, but we will get them turned.”
The reaction of the Tottenham players as they mobbed their team-mate spoke volumes about the build-up of tension during Soldado’s goal-drought.
“We have been wishing it in for him,” said Spurs captain Michael Dawson. ”He’s settled in well and we are just delighted to see him score.”