Football: Paulinho late show secures Spurs win
CARDIFF, United Kingdom (AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur left it late but made it four wins in five games as Paulinho's stoppage-time goal secured a 1-0 Premier League victory win away to Cardiff on Sunday.
Victory saw Spurs go level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table but trail their north London rivals on goal difference.
Brazilian ace Paulinho popped up in the nick of time to score his first Premier League goal after meeting substitute Erik Lamela's cross with an audacious finish.
With the lion's share of another full house right behind them, Cardiff made a smart start with home debutant Kevin Theophile-Catherine causing Kyle Naughton one or two early problems along the flank.
Playing without fear, as they did against Manchester City and Everton, Cardiff should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Naughton's back pass to Hugo Lloris landed at the feet of Fraizer Campbell.
Unfortunately, for Cardiff, Campbell's touch was a little heavy and Lloris came to the rescue of his full back.
Spurs' response was immediate and had it not have been for a fine save at his near post from David Marshall, Roberto Soldado would have scored. Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend combined on the right before Soldado popped up to bring out the best in Marshall.
The Scottish goalkeeper then pulled off a more regulation stop from Gylfi Sigurdsson before diving full stretch to his right to keep out Christian Eriksen from 25 yards.
By now, Spurs had weathered the storm and were looking every bit the title contenders that Cardiff manager Malky Mckay believe they will be.
And it took another wonderful piece of goalkeeping from Marshall to keep them out.
Soldado was denied by a brave block from Steven Caulker in the 20th minute, but as the ball broke free, Marshall somehow kept out Eriksen's strike from the edge of the penalty box.
Cardiff had no answer to Tottenham's attacking prowess and twice, again, Marshall was called upon to save the day. The first was a stinging drive from distance from Eriksen, who was beginning to look the most likely.
Cardiff's ploy of putting 10 men behind the ball was negative but effective and Spurs almost fell behind two minutes before the break.
Peter Whittingham's corner picked out Ben Turner at the far post and the giant defender headed into an empty net. However, Mark Clattenburg disallowed the goal, on the grounds Aron Gunnarsson had obstructed Lloris inside the six yard box.
Cardiff began the second half much as they had in the first, with Bellamy twice testing the Spurs back four and Lloris having to be at his best to cut out a decent cross from the Welshman.
At the other end, it was business as usual for the over-worked Marshall.
He comfortably pouched Townsend's left foot shot from 20 yards and after Sigurdsson had struck the bar, the Scot somehow kicked away Soldado's effort from the rebound.
Paulinho's near post flick from a Sigurdsson cross saw Marshall spring to the rescue once again, this time at his near post, and after punching away a deep corner from Townsend minutes later, he was on his toes to keep out a long range effort from the outstanding Dembele.
Cardiff had successfully taken the sting out of the visitors and with substitute Peter Odemwingie providing a fresh pair of legs up front, the Bluebirds might have taken a surprise lead 10 minutes from the end.
Odemwingie escaped around Naughton but when he pulled the ball back for Gunnarsson, the Icelandic midfielder ballooned his shot over the top.
Tottenham continued to press but there was no way through until Paulinho converted Lamela's centre.