CARDIFF, United Kingdom (AFP) - Andre Villas-Boas was delighted with the persistence and quality shown by Tottenham in their 1-0 win away to Cardiff City.
Sunday's success in the Welsh capital, secured by Paulinho's stoppage-time winner, left Tottenham level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal but behind their arch north London rivals on goal difference.
It took some desperate defending and a dozen world-class saves from goalkeeper David Marshall to deny Tottenham for fully 92 minutes.
But when substitute Erik Lamela picked out Paulinho deep into injury time, Spurs were home and boasting a fourth win in five league games despite losing former talisman Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in a world record transfer.
"There could only be one winner," Villas-Boas said.
"We played so open and tried so hard, that it would have been unfair to have left here with only one point. We got our reward in the end, but with the chances we created, if it wasn't for Marshall, it could have been a more comfortable game," the Portuguese added.
"Yes, it's satisfying as I don't see many teams coming here and winning against a team who are well-organised and well-managed. And yes, you do worry when you can't score. I thought it might be one of those games."
The Spurs boss did have one or two heart-stopping moments. First, when Kyle Naughton's third-minute back pass failed to reach Hugo Lloris, the French goalkeeper appeared to be inches out of his box when he robbed Fraizer Campbell of possession.
Then, Cardiff's Ben Turner had a goal disallowed on the stroke of half time after Aron Gunnarsson was adjudged, somewhat harshly, to have fouled Lloris in the six-yard box.
Then Gunnarsson scooped his shot into the stand, nine minutes from time, after a neat pull back from debutant Peter Odemwingie.
Of the Lloris incident with Campbell, Villas-Boas said: "I haven't seen it, but I understand he was right on the limit. I'm not sure if there is some controversy there.
"Most people I have spoken to told me his hand is right on the line. I think if that's the case, the referee made the right decision.
"The disallowed goal was for a foul for holding Hugo's arm. We spoke about it between us at half time and he said he would have been fine if he had not been fouled." Spurs were denied before and after the interval by Marshall's heroics with Gylfi Sigurdsson, the only player prior to Paulinho, to beat the keeper.
But even then, the ball came back off the crossbar and Marshall somehow kept out Roberto Soldado's crisp strike from the rebound.
"I don't think what you deserve comes into it, that's the harsh reality," said Cardiff manager Malky Mackay.
"They (Tottenham) were clinical in the last minute and we weren't in the first minute when we were through on goal.
"But I'm more disappointed with the disallowed goal. Hugo Lloris will see it tonight and realise he is a lucky man and the referee will be disappointed in his decision.
"If you look at it again it's Lloris who has his hand on Gunnarsson and then completely misses the track of the ball. So, for me, it is a clear goal."