The Brazilian international was there when it mattered to backheel Erik Lamela's cross in the 93rd minute.
It was no less than we deserved at at the Cardiff City Stadium but we found Bluebirds' goalkeeper David Marshall in inspired form.
Marshall made 11 saves as statistics showed us with 29 shots to Cardiff's six - 20 on target - and the one that mattered was the 29th and last.
The game was dominated by the team in the new blue third kit for huge periods of the game, so much so that at times a goal seemed inevitable, but we had to wait until the final attack for victory.
Andre Villas-Boas made one enforced change from last weekend's victory over Norwich City, with Kyle Naughton replacing the injured Danny Rose at left-back. Jermain Defoe and Younes Kaboul were also missing from the bench due to injury, but there was a place among the subs for new signing Vlad Chiriches.
With the crowd noisy on a warm but overcast Sunday afternoon, the home side got off to a quick start with Kevin Theophile-Catherine causing an early problem for Jan Vertonghen. The tide was soon heading in the other direction and a devilish cross from Christian Eriksen nearly picked out Gylfi Sigurdsson in a promising position, before Naughton couldn't control a potshot from distance.
Six minutes in Naughton ran out of forward options and stroked the ball back his own goal. Unfortunately it was not in the direction of Vertonghen and Frasier Campbell was clean through on goal. The lightening quick Hugo Lloris was off his line in a blink and applied an interception with his hand right on the 18-yard line to deny the striker.
An Andros Townsend dash down the right led to Kyle Walker being in position to measure a low centre, which Roberto Soldado side footed goal wards. David Marshall in the Cardiff goal stopped with his chest but was not convincing as the ball spun past the post.
A thrusting sprint towards goal from Walker was only stopped in its tracks eight yards or so from goal by a Ben Turner lunge before Eriksen forced a good save out of Marshall from 20 yards.
In 19 minutes Marshall was called on again to tip an Eriksen drive just around the post, the shot being from the rebound after Soldado was denied by a block from Steven Caulker. Sigurdsson again stung the hand of Marshall and it was beginning to become a mystery how a goal had not yet been recorded, such was the dominence.
Pouring forward and enjoying complete domination continued as the clock edged towards half-time, but it was Cardiff who had a goal disallowed just before the break due to Dawson being manhandled by Turner as he was in the process of heading home from a corner.
Cardiff began the second half in a positive fashion, with Lloris called upon a couple of times to foil the threat. Five minutes in, Sigurdsson clattered the crossbar from distance with a dipping effort before Soldado's rebound strike was blocked by the legs of Marshall.
A run and low cross by Sigurdsson was met at the near post by Paulinho with a stabbed effort, but once again Marshall stooped to save.
In what was becoming a rare sortie forward, Guy Whittingham's centre caused some alarm, but his low drive across goal did not meet with any of his teammates - perhaps Caulker being the closest.
Home substitute Peter Odemwingie livened up the home crowd when he was introduced and came fairly close with a shot on 68 minutes, as Erik Lamela was getting readied to join proceedings.
The Argentinean came on in place of Sigurdsson and slotted in on the left. The attacks weren't flowing as much, perhaps as tired legs took effect and Cardiff were taking some encouragement by not being pressed as high up the pitch.
They could have snatched the lead on 80 minutes when Odemwingie cut the ball back in front of Aron Gunnarsson in front of goal and thankfully his shot went high. Harry Kane came on in place of Townsend to offer greater support to Soldado in attack.
Lewis Holtby was next on in front of a crowd of 27,850 as a winner was sought in the closing minutes and the team went forward in droves to and achieve it.
Both subs combined for the winner - Lamela won a key header, Holtby laid him in and Lamela picked out Paulinho, who somehow fashioned a backheel to secure the victory.
Cardiff: Marshall; Theopile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor; Bellamy (Cowie, 78), Gunnarsson, Medel, Whittingham; Kim; Campbell (Odemwingie, 65). Subs not used: Lewis, Hudson, Mutch, Mason, Maynard.
Spurs: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Dembele, Paulinho; Townsend (Kane, 81), Eriksen (Holtby, 89), Sigurdsson (Lamela, 71); Soldado. Subs not used: Friedel, Chiriches, Fryers, Sandro.
Goal: Spurs - Paulinho (90+3).
Yellow cards: Cardiff - Turner. Spurs - Townsend, Dawson, Soldado.
Referee: Mr M Clattenburg.