Football: Soldado keeps Spurs buoyant without Bale

Tottenham Hotspur's Roberto Soldado celebrates scoring his team's first goal of the game against Swansea City from the penalty spot during their English Premier League football match at White Hart Lane, London, Sunday Aug. 25, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Tottenham Hotspur's Roberto Soldado celebrates scoring his team's first goal of the game against Swansea City from the penalty spot during their English Premier League football match at White Hart Lane, London, Sunday Aug. 25, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP

LONDON, England (AFP) - Roberto Soldado showed Tottenham Hotspur can thrive without Gareth Bale as the Spaniard's penalty secured a 1-0 victory over Swansea City on Sunday.

Former Valencia striker Soldado, whose spot-kick heroics also gave Spurs an opening-day victory at Crystal Palace, took his tally to four goals in three games for his new club with a calmly converted second-half penalty at White Hart Lane after Andros Townsend had been fouled by Jonjo Shelvey.

With Wales winger Bale expected to join Real Madrid for a world record fee of around £85 million (S$169.3 million) next week, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas can now turn his attention to strengthening his squad knowing his side have made an impressive beginning to the season.

Tottenham's 100 per cent start to the Premier League campaign also provided some consolation for Villas-Boas after being beaten to the signature of Brazilian playmaker Willian by Chelsea earlier in the day.

Villas-Boas is likely to continue spending after an already busy summer and has been linked with a £40 million move for Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk while also reportedly being interested in Steaua Bucharest defender Vlad Chiriches.

For Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, there was more frustration after his side's second successive league defeat.

Bale is currently relaxing in Spain as Spurs and Madrid put the finishing touches to their transfer negotiations, but there was little sign his team are missing him at the moment.

Etienne Capoue came into the Tottenham midfield, slotting in alongside Paulinho in front of the back four while Moussa Dembele was entrusted with the second striker role behind Soldado.

And winger Townsend was rewarded for his goalscoring display in the midweek Europa League mauling of Dinamo Tiblisi with his first league start for the club.

That victory in Georgia had provided a welcome early season boost, but Swansea also came into this game having beaten Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti 5-1 in the same competition.

However, it needed a superb first-half goalkeeping display from Michel Vorm to keep the visitors on level terms.

Tottenham dominated early possession with Paulinho quickly drawing a save form Vorm but the visitors immediately offered a threat of their own with Wayne Routledge testing Hugo Lloris with a firm drive.

With no Bale, Spurs were forced to look elsewhere for their creative spark.

On the Spurs left, full-back Danny Rose and winger Nacer Chadli worked well together, testing Swansea right-back Angel Rangel and delivering a succession of good crosses.

Meanwhile, Townsend again looked lively on the right, taking the opportunity to test Vorm whenever a chance arose.

Vorm, though, was equal to anything Tottenham threw at him during the first half, with his reaction save from Paulinho's 20th-minute shot the pick of a string of fine saves.

And Swansea were handed a slice of luck to compliment their goalkeeper's efforts when referee Neil Swarbrick denied Spurs a clear penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Townsend's pace took him beyond Shelvey, drawing the Swansea midfielder into a clumsy challenge, but despite replays showing the foul was committed inside the area, the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Spurs were frustrated but 11 minutes into the second half the same two players came together again as Shelvey sent Townsend tumbling.

This time there was no doubt about the outcome and Soldado stepped up to convert the spot-kick with ease.