Roberto Soldado was our match-winner for the second successive Sunday in the Premier League, converting a second-half penalty as we edged past Swansea City in a tight game at White Hart Lane.
Just as he did at Crystal Palace seven days ago, the Spanish striker displayed nerves of steel to roll the ball home from 12 yards in the 58th minute for the only goal of the game, after Andros Townsend had been upended by Jonjo Shelvey.
It secured back-to-back 1-0 wins in the Premier League, six points and two clean sheets all making for happy reading in the early stages of this 2013-14 campaign.
There were two changes from last weekend’s win at Selhurst Park with Townsend and Etienne Capoue coming in for Aaron Lennon and Gylfi Sigurdsson. It marked Academy product Townsend’s first-ever Premier League start for us, just reward for an outstanding performance in midweek against Dinamo Tbilisi and he continued that form against the Swans with another all-action display.
There were certainly plenty of chances created in the first half but we just couldn’t convert one of them into a goal as we started brightly.
In the eighth minute, Capoue won ball with a strong challenge in middle of the pitch, Paulinho picked up possession and drove into Swansea half, cut inside Jose Canas and fired low but it was a comfortable save for Michel Vorm diving to his left.
Shortly after, the visitors carved out their first opportunity when Kyle Walker’s clearance fell to former Spur Wayne Routledge, his first time shot was saved by Hugo Lloris and the rebound fell to Michu six yards out who poked ball wide. It was a bad miss, but the assistant’s flag had gone up for offside anyway to spare his blushes.
We saw plenty of possession as our midfield worked hard to deny Swansea any time on the ball and were patient with it, taking time to create the chances which continued to come. Capoue again tested Vorm from distance, Nacer Chadli lifted a free-kick over the bar and on 21 minutes, Paulinho had the best opportunity of the half.
Walker clipped a cross from the byline which City skipper Ashley Williams headed against his own post, the rebound fell straight to Paulinho no more than 12 yards out and he smashed a shot which hit Williams on the line and the loose ball was gathered gratefully by Vorm.
The visitors were on the backfoot for much of the half but they still carried a threat going forward, illustrated when Jonjo Shelvey brought a smart save out of Lloris with an angled drive on 26 minutes.
We finished the half strongly, Dembele bringing the best out of Vorm which a drive from 15 yards out after excellent work from Michael Dawson and Walker down the right, while there was controversy just before the interval.
Townsend made a dart to the byline on the right but was upended as he and Shelvey came together, referee Neil Swarbrick awarded a free-kick but replays suggested the incident took place inside the area. The set-piece came to nothing and we went in goalless at the break.
It was a quiet start to the second period but that changed on 54 minutes when Townsend cut inside and hit a fierce 25-yard drive that just fizzed over. And the youngster’s positive attitude reaped rewards just three minutes later when he picked up the ball on the right, attacked the Swansea defence and as he broke into the box, once again he was tripped by Shelvey. This time the referee did point to the spot.
Up stepped Soldado, so clinical in his previous penalty against Crystal Palace last week, and he was calmness personified once more to stroke the ball past Vorm for his fourth goal in three competitive games.
Swansea responded well with two chances of their own as Shelvey tested Lloris and then Pablo Hernandez curled an effort just wide, before introducing striker Wilfried Bony to their strike-force. And they almost drew level in the 72nd minute when Hernandez’s deep cross was met on the volley by Chico Flores, but Lloris produced an outstanding save to deny the defender.
The visitors enjoyed more of the possession in the closing minutes as they searched for an equaliser without really threatening, with Sandro coming into our midfield to shore things up in place of the impressive Townsend, who could be delighted with his afternoon’s work.
Paulinho went close in stoppage time, Vorm denying his first effort before he blazed the rebound high and wide, and that was the final action as we held firm for another hard-fought three points.
Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Rose, Capoue, Paulinho, Townsend (Sandro 88), Dembele (Sigurdsson 64), Chadli, Soldado (Defoe 80). Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Naughton, Kaboul, Carroll.
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Routledge (Pozuelo 59), Canas, Shelvey (Bony 69), De Guzman, Hernandez, Michu. Substitutes (not used): Tremmel, Amat, Britton, Lamah, Richards.
Goal: Spurs – Soldado (58 pen)
Yellows: Spurs – Soldado; Swansea – Davies, Vorm, Michu, Williams.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.