Roberto Soldado kept a cool head to slot home another match-winning penalty to earn us a narrow victory over Hull City at the Lane this afternoon.
The Spanish striker stepped up to the mark for the third time this season, converting from 12 yards after a handball inside the area from Ahmed Elmohamady, sending Steve Harper the wrong way to give us a hard-fought three points. The win sees us climb back up to fourth in the Premier League table.
Andre Villas-Boas made just the one change from last week’s win at Villa Park, with Aaron Lennon replacing Gylfi Sigurdsson for his first Premier League start since the opening day of the season at Crystal Palace, having picked up an injury that day at Selhurst Park.
There was a familiar face in the visitors line-up with Tom Huddlestone back at the Lane following his summer move to the KC Stadium and he received a warm welcome from the Spurs faithful prior to kick-off. And it was the Hull midfielder who created the first opportunity of the game, sending over a free-kick which Paul McShane headed wide on seven minutes.
Our first opportunity also came from a set-piece, Paulinho flicking Lewis Holtby’s free-kick just over after 13 minutes, and three minutes later Andros Townsend was denied by a great save from City keeper Steve Harper. The England winger led the attack, laid it inside to Paulinho before receiving the return and curling a left-foot shot which Harper palmed away for a corner.
Hull were certainly a threat themselves coming forward and after Hugo Lloris saved comfortably from George Boyd, he made a fine stop to keep Yannick Sagbo’s angled drive out on 19 minutes. And from a corner two minutes later, Michael Dawson and Sandro were in the right place to block shots from Boyd and Sagbo respectively.
Huddlestone then let fly with a trademark volley from the edge of the area, which went a couple of yards over, and a right old scramble around the edge of the Hull box followed 10 minutes from the break but we weren’t able to find space to get a shot away.
The last chance of the half saw Kyle Walker sting the palms of Harper with a rasping 25-yard drive from the left edge of the area after Vlad Chiriches had been upended.
The second period saw the introduction of Mousa Dembele in place of Sandro, the recipient of an early yellow card, and we looked to start the half on the front foot, enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the early stages.
Walker fizzed in another free-kick on 53 minutes but this one was straight at Harper, and the City goalkeeper produced another good save moments later, diving low to his left to keep out Soldado after Townsend put him clear.
But clear chances were hard to come by as the visitors packed their half and made themselves difficult to play through, Paulinho trying an effort from distance on 72 minutes which went high and wide.
We needed a breakthrough and it finally came 10 minutes from time. Substitute Christian Eriksen worked the ball out wide to Jan Vertonghen who clipped over a cross which hit the outstretched arm of Elmohamady. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and up stepped Soldado to coolly slot home the penalty, his third successful spot-kick in the Premier League and sixth in all competitions for us.
There then followed a nasty incident involving Townsend who went flying over the advertising boards and into a photographers’ pit at speed after crossing the ball. He needed lengthy treatment and, since we’d already used our three substitutes, couldn’t be replaced. But he returned to a rapturous welcome to help us see out the game.
Hull kept plugging away though and there was a heart-stopping moment in the dying seconds when Dawson conceded a free-kick right on the edge of the area. Huddlestone stepped up and hit a ferocious shot which went inches past the far post…and there was great relief when the whistle blew seconds later.
Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Vertonghen, Paulinho, Sandro (Dembele 46), Lennon (Defoe 70), Holtby (Eriksen 60), Townsend, Soldado. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Naughton, Sigurdsson, Lamela.
Hull: Harper, Rosenoir (McLean 84), Davies, Bruce, McShane, Figueroa, Meyler, Huddlestone, Boyd (Brady 84), Elmohamady, Sagbo (Proschwitz 87). Substitutes (not used): Jakupovic, Koren, Gedo, Quinn.
Goals: Soldado (penalty, 80).
Yellows: Spurs - Sandro, Chiriches; Hull - Rosenoir, Boyd, Meyler.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue: White Hart Lane, London
Referee: Mr M Oliver