Slick Spurs silence Bluebirds with first-half goal spree
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: Cardiff City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Harry Kane ended his Cardiff City hoodoo as Tottenham Hotspur stayed in the Premier League title picture with a 3-0 win in the Welsh capital.
Kane had previously scored at least once against 27 of the 28 Premier League opponents he had faced, with the Bluebirds the solitary team he had failed to net against in three previous encounters.
But Kane needed only two and a half minutes to put that record straight on New Year’s Day, and further goals from Christian Eriksen and Heung-min Son provided a swift panacea to the pain of losing 3-1 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
The victory eased Spurs back above Manchester City into second place and six points adrift of leaders Liverpool.
Tottenham can now relax and watch the showdown between City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side believing they can still force their way into title contention in 2019.
Cardiff entered the contest in confident mood after four points from festive fixtures at Crystal Palace and Leicester had moved them three clear of the relegation zone.
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But Spurs were quickly ahead from a move which Kane started and finished for his 18th goal of the season.
Kane drove through the midfield to find Kieran Trippier, and the England captain was in the right place when Cardiff made a hash of the cross and Sean Morrison diverted the ball against his knee for it to trickle past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Cardiff had switched Callum Paterson from his usual striking role to the right flank in an attempt to exploit Danny Rose aerially on crosses from the other side.
The tactic almost worked when Paterson nearly got on the end of Josh Murphy’s deep ball, but he was foiled by a brave Rose header.
Spurs doubled their lead after 12 minutes when Kane, dropping deep and pulling Sol Bamba out of position to devastating effect, sparked a move featuring Moussa Sissoko and Son.
Harry Arter failed to cut out Son’s cross and Eriksen, shifting the ball from his left to right foot in the blink of an eye, cut the ball back into the bottom corner.
It was a landmark moment for the Dane as it was the 100th Spurs goal he had been involved in - a record standing at 45 goals and 55 assists.
The third came after 26 minutes when Sissoko beat Greg Cunningham in midfield to set another lightning Spurs attack in motion.
Kane filled the number 10 position again to free the in-form Son, who easily evaded the attention of Morrison to fire home his eighth goal in nine games.
Cardiff found it difficult to get possession after that, although substitute Junior Hoilett did enliven them after the interval in their search for a first goal against Spurs for 41 years.
Hoilett brought a first save out of Hugo Lloris when Spurs allowed Paterson’s cross to bounce in the box and he climbed above Trippier at the back post.
Spurs could have had more but Kane, Son and Dele Alli were thwarted as Cardiff put bodies on the line to prevent their goal difference from worsening.
Cardiff’s defeat extended their woeful record against the ‘Big Six’ sides, which now reads 15 successive losses and 48 goals conceded.
The saving grace for manager Neil Warnock and company is that these are not the games that will determine Cardiff’s fate come the end of the season.