Dier downs Cardiff at Wembley
Spurs 1-0 Cardiff City
Sat 06 October 2018, 16:54|Tottenham Hotspur
Eric Dier was an unlikely matchwinner against Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon, scoring the only goal of the game as we battled to a dogged victory against the Premier League new boys.
The England midfielder struck in the eighth minute – his eighth goal in our colours – to fire us ahead and the early breakthrough should have allowed us to push on, but Neil Warnock’s visitors dug deep and kept us at bay for the remainder of the game. They were reduced to 10 men in the 58th minute when Joe Ralls received a straight red card, but that didn’t affect the pattern of the contest too much and we had to settle for the single-goal victory. It was our sixth win in our opening eight Premier League games – the first time we’ve ever achieved that in the division’s history.
The winning goal was the first real action of note as we took the lead in the eighth minute. Kieran Trippier’s corner in to Lucas Moura was laid back to him and his cross was headed goalwards by Davinson Sanchez, the ball hitting Joe Bennett before Dier seized on the rebound, slamming it home from six yards out – his first goal since netting in our win at the Lane against Watford in April, 2017.
While we were the more dominant side in terms of possession, the Bluebirds did almost catch us out twice with two long balls. In the 23rd minute Callum Paterson headed on a deep pass and hesitation between Danny Rose and Hugo Lloris allowed Josh Murphy to get to the ball first and clip it over the goalkeeper. It was heading in but Toby Alderweireld was able to hack clear on the goal-line just in the nick of time as Junior Hoilett closed in.
Another Paterson header late in the half fell to Murphy again, through on goal, but this time Lloris won the battle, racing off his line to intercept the bouncing ball and clear the danger.
We created plenty of chances ourselves though, two of the best in the closing moments of the half. First Heung-Min Son danced his way along the goal-line and cut back for Lucas, who side-footed inches wide while on the stroke of half-time, Son took Moussa Sissoko’s pass in his stride but then blazed over from 15 yards.
Less than a minute after the restart we almost doubled our lead, Rose surging down the left and crossing for Kane to power a header goalwards which Neil Etheridge saved, with Sean Morrison superbly clearing off the line as Lucas drilled in the rebound.
There was a lull in proceedings for a spell, but things sparked into life when Lucas sped past Ralls down the right wing, only for the Cardiff man to deliberately scythe him down with a poor tackle, referee Mike Dean brandishing the red card.
But, despite their disadvantage, it was the visitors who almost levelled up the scores when Morrison got on the end of a free-kick and forced Lloris into a good save, pushing the Cardiff skipper’s header against the post and we cleared our lines.
In truth there was little for either keeper to do in the final stages as we looked to extend our lead, but failed to really trouble Etheridge and the narrow margin was enough to secure the points.
There can only be one and it has to be the only goal of the game. Both goalkeepers made big saves and Cardiff’s Ralls picked up a red card, but the decisive moment of the match was Dier’s winner.
He won’t have scored too many easier goals than this one as the ball broke kindly for him from Sanchez’s header, the England international pouncing on it ahead of Bluebirds’ goalkeeper Etheridge to slam home. Having not scored at all throughout the 2017/18 campaign, he’ll no doubt be delighted to see his name on the scoresheet again.
"When Eric scored, at that moment you start to think ‘okay, let’s score more and kill the game’ and of course after that we created chances but didn’t score, we didn’t kill the game and then you worry because always in football it can happen, a situation where you can concede," said manager Mauricio Pochettino.
For Mauricio, claiming victory against Cardiff was ideal to allow us to make a quick return to winning ways after the midweek defeat to Barcelona while at the same time maintaining our positive Premier League momentum going into the international break.
"I'm happy for the victory, the three points and looking forward now for this two weeks, to give some rest (although) some players are also going to be involved in internationals," he said.
"It's good, I'm happy. We're one point from the top and looking forward to the next month."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-0 Cardiff City
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose (Davies 88), Dier, Winks, Sissoko (Wanyama 85), Kane, Son (Lamela 72), Moura. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Walker-Peters, Skipp, Llorente.
Cardiff City (4-4-1-1): Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison (c), Bamba, Bennett, Camarasa, Arter, Ralls, Hoilett (Harris 78), Paterson, J Murphy (Ward 78 (Reid 85)). Substitutes (not used): B Murphy, Richards, Zohore, Gunnarsson.
Goal: Spurs – Dier 8.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Sanchez, Kane, Alderweireld; Cardiff – Arter.
Red card: Cardiff – Ralls.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Venue: Wembley Stadium.
Weather: Light rain, 11 degrees.