Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall was SkySports' pick for Man of the Match and, for the neutral, the stopper was unlucky to concede Paulinho’s 90-minute winner after such a resolute display.
However, Tottenham deserved the win for their strong and persistent performance – Spurs enjoyed a massive 63 per cent of possession, had 29 shots of which 12 were on target compared to Cardiff’s mere 6 shots of which none were or target.
The game looked like a training session of attack versus defence for the most part – Spurs kept plugging away ardently and in the end thoroughly deserved the three points via Paulinho.
A number of Andre Villas-Boas men played crucial parts in the victory – Michael Dawson had a strong game, as did Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Moussa Dembele, Christian Eriksen and goal-scorer Paulinho.
Dawson made 7 out of 7 successful clearances in the game, blocked one shot, made one crucial interception, won all but one of his six aerial duels and even got a shot on goal in (although it was off-target).
Walker made one successful tackle out of one, three successful clearances out of three, won three of his five aerial duels and created three clear-cut chances going forward.
On the other side of the backline, Naughton created two clear-cut opportunities for teammates, won 50 per cent of his aerial duels, succeeded with 50 per cent of his clearances and 100 per cent of his interceptions.
Moussa Dembele was superb – he was all over the pitch and commanded in the middle of the park – he attempted six take-ons charging through the midfield and on all but one occasion he retained the ball. He made clearances, interceptions, tackles and misplaced just four passes over 96 minutes. He was a giant on the day.
New boy Eriksen showed just a glimpse of his capabilities – he created three clear-cut chances, his pass completion rate in the final third was 60 per cent but his overall play in central areas was fantastic.
However, goal scorer Paulinho gets the nod from me – not just for the goal which will endear him to the fans forever – but for his work rate and his determination across 96 minutes. He was outstanding.
Defensively, he was operating at a 66 per cent success rate with his tackling, 66 per cent rate in the air, and 100 per cent success rate with interceptions and 100 per cent success with his blocks. In attack, he had 100 per cent success rate with take-ons, had 6 shots on goal of which one was blocked and three were on target, the other two were inches away.
He created two clear-cut chances for his teammates and he didn’t misplace a single pass in the final third. He was by far Tottenham’s most influential player in the game. The goal to take the three points was the cherry on top of a very big performance for the Brazilian.
image: © visualkreator