ROBERTO Soldado took his tally to four goals in three games as Tottenham maintained their 100 per cent record with a narrow victory over Swansea yesterday.
The £26 million record signing scored the winning goal from the penalty spot for the second week running.
Tottenham dominated the game, but a killer instinct was lacking at times and Michel Vorm also pulled off a couple of top saves in the Swansea goal. That killer instinct, of course, would probably have been there had Gareth Bale been playing. Without him, Tottenham were impressive, but only in patches.
Soldado took his spot-kick well while a pair of bruising performances from Etienne Capoue and Paulinho stifled Swansea’s creativity. Tottenham should have had the chance to bury the game in the first half, but referee Neil Swarbrick failed to give what looked to be a clear penalty following a foul by Jonjo Shelvey on Andros Townsend.
Afterwards manager Andre Villas-Boas defended Bale’s decision to skip the Spurs match. Some of Tottenham’s players sit on the back row of the bench during games at White Hart Lane, but Real Madrid target Bale was not there, instead pictured 1,000 miles away on a beach in Marbella. “We allowed him two days off,” Villas-Boas said. “It’s not the first time this has come up. We never force non-selected players to come to our games. I decided that last season.”
Spurs pressed early on and Swansea’s Ashley Williams rattled the frame of his own goal with a bullet header, with Vorm doing well to save Paulinho’s follow-up from close range.
Hugo Lloris had a quiet 25 minutes until the Spurs stopper was called into action to save from Shelvey at the near post. It was all Spurs from then on. Paulinho strode past his marker but fired a low shot wastefully wide. Swansea could only clear Kyle Walker’s cross as far as Mousa Dembele, but Vorm pulled off an impressive save to deny the Belgian.
When Paulinho stabbed a volley inches wide of a half-open goal, Spurs fans groaned. It seemed nothing was going their way and that sense was only heightened when Swarbrick failed to award a penalty in the final minute of the first half. Shelvey body-checked Townsend inside the penalty area, but the referee, after consulting with his flagging assistant, gave a free-kick a yard outside the box instead.
Tottenham continued to lay siege to the Swansea box and the pressure paid off when they won a penalty in controversial circumstances. Townsend’s trickery allowed him to enter the Swansea box and he fell to the floor after little, if any, contact from Shelvey. Swarbrick paused before pointing to the spot and Soldado made no mistake, slotting the ball to Vorm’s right-hand side.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup brought on striker Wilfried Bony and the Swans came back into the match briefly. Pablo Hernandez saw his curling effort fly a yard wide and then Lloris pulled off a stunning save to stop a powerful volley from Chico Flores.