Match Report – Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0

Lionel Messi, surely the World’s best player, lit up Wembley Stadium when Barcelona visited Spurs in midweek, but Cardiff City were left frustrated at Tottenham’s temporary home after a 1-0 defeat.

The Bluebirds had Joe Ralls sent off, Danny Ward limped off four minutes after going on from the subs’ bench and lost to an eighth minute Eric Dier goal.

Spurs are the fifth top seven club to play Cardiff in eight Premier matches this season, but how can they earn that first top flight win of the season?

They have to stop switching off at crucial moments and maintaining concentration for the full 90 minutes.

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City followed their promising performance against Burnley with another heartening display which can be rated among their best so far. It’s such a shame they have nothing to show for their efforts.

Tottenham’s win takes them to 18 points and that equals their best start to a Premier League season after eight fixtures.

They remain unbeaten against promoted teams in 37 fixtures, winning 34 and drawing three, while Cardiff have failed to win a game in their opening eight fixtures for only the third time in their history.

The big problem for Warnock and Co is how to to lift confidence and self-belief in their group and turn obvious promise into points.

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They are now bottom of the Premier table going into the international break. City’s next fixture is at home against Fulham, who are only three points ahead of the Bluebirds.

A big question after this Wembley defeat was ‘What’s happened to Cardiff’s ability to defend set pieces?’

They were more then useful at Championship level when it came to keeping out corners and free-kicks, but the Bluebirds let themselves down against Spurs.

Tottenham’s first half goal followed a corner – and City have conceded ore set piece goals – six – than any of their fellow Premier teams.

It’s an area which has to be addressed, and fast.

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England’s Eric Dier scored to put Spurs ahead after only eight minutes. The hosts played a short corner routine and Kieran Trippier whipped in a cross which was met by Davinson Sanchez.

The ball hit Joe Bennett and fell for Dier to convert the simplest of chances from six yards, his first Premier League goal of the season.

That was a massive, frustrating blow for the 3,000 fans who followed their City team to London, while the players looked shocked at falling behind so early.

To their credit, Cardiff worked their way back into contention and launched a number of dangerous attacks.

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Spurs were well below their best, but Cardiff have to take credit for the way they battled and competed.

Ralls, Harry Arter and Victor Camarasa linked up in a midfield trio for Cardiff, while Icelandic captain Aaron Gunnarsson returned from injury and was among the substitutes.

The loss of Ralls just before the hour, sent off for a cynical foul on Brazilian Lucas Moura, left City in massive trouble.

Junior Hoilett was recalled after missing the home defeat against Burnley because of illness and he linked with Paterson in attack before being forced to drop back into midfield following Ralls’ departure.

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Remarkably, City carved out better chances than Spurs, but the Welsh club seemed to lack belief at times and their decision-making in the final third and when it came to finishing let them down at times.

Tottenham looked uncomfortable when Cardiff fired long balls at them, while Murphy’s running took him into dangerous areas. When Paterson flicked on an Etheridge kick it was Murphy who found space and tried to left the ball over Lloris, but could not quite find the net.

Hoilett’s effort was cleared off the Spurs line by Toby Alderweireld. Murphy had opened up the home team when he drifted past full-back Danny Rose and Paterson, again, won the ball to flick on.

England international Rose looked out of sorts when Murphy ran at him and was rarely able to settle.

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Bamba headed over from a Camarasa corner, while Lloris made several good saves.

Goalscorer Dier, Moussa Sissoko and Rose were all selected in the Spurs team after missing the 4-2 home defeat against Barcelona with Victory Wanyama, Erik Lamela and Davies left out.

Spurs dominated possession, having had the ball at their feet for 74 per cent of the game, but Cardiff kept working and a Morrison downward header from Camarasa’s corner gathered pace off the surface.

The Bluebirds’ captain got away from Alderweireld inside the penalty area and Lloris had to turn the effort onto a post.

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Manager Neil Warnock sent on Danny Ward and Kadeem Harris, but Cardiff had to change again four minutes later. Ward pulled up with a calf strain and went off with five minutes left when Bobby Decordova-Reid took over.

Sol Bamba moved forward into attack during second half injury time, bus Tottenham held on to their win. IN the closing stages they were even time-wasting to deny Cardiff any chance of scoring a late leveller.

Spurs: Lloris (capt), Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose (Davies 88), Dier, Winks, Lucas, Son (Lamela 72), Sissoko (Wanyama 85), Kane. Subs not used: Gazzaniga (gk), Wanyama, Walker-Peters, Llorente, Davies, Skipp.

Referee: Mike Dean