Football Today: Cardiff 0-3 Tottenham: Harry kane, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min score in win
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said his team needs to “find a way to be consistent” if they want to be “contenders” in the Premier League after strolling to a comprehensive win at Cardiff City to climb back up to second place in the table.
Spurs suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat by Wolves on Saturday but ruthlessly exposed Cardiff’s flimsy defence with three goals before half-time to win in south Wales.
Harry Kane bundled in a fortuitous early opener in the third minute and Christian Eriksen nestled a fine strike into the bottom corner nine minutes later.
Son Heung-min added a third in the 26th minute and, from that point, the untroubled visitors seemed to ease off a little.
Cardiff at least registered their first efforts on the target in a low-key second half but the damage had already been done and they remain 16th in the table, 3 points clear of the relegation zone.
By contrast, a 6th victory from 7th league matches closes the gap between Spurs and leaders Liverpool to 6th points with the Reds away at third-placed Manchester City on Thursday.
And although the home side were barely in this contest, such a handsome margin of victory and convincing performance was timely for Tottenham after their defeat to Wolves.
“We were so relaxed and kept calm, it was so important. We showed Wolves was just an accident,” Pochettino said.
“It’s a crazy fixture (list) – it’s normal that in some games we can drop our mental energy.
“The most important thing is to find a way to be consistent if we want to be a contender. We need to believe more in us. We are in a process of doing fantastic things.”
Spurs’ title tilt back on track
Successive thrashings of Everton and Bournemouth had added weight to the notion Spurs are genuine contenders to win the Premier League, even if Mauricio Pochettino had described his side as “intruders” in the title race.
Their growing sense of optimism was punctured by that loss to the Wolves – but this display suggested it was an mere aberration.
Whereas Wolves were disciplined and resolute on this occasion and Spurs were presented with a charitable Cardiff defence – which they are also punished clinically.
The opening goal arrived inside 3 minutes and in farcical fashion, Kane playing the ball wide to Kieran Trippier, whose cross fell to Sean Morrison, but the Cardiff defender only succeeded in playing the ball on to the Kane’s knee before it bobbled into the net.
It may have been a lucky strike for the England captain, but it was also an significant one but as it meant he has now scored against all the 28 of the Premier League teams, which he has faced.
Tottenham had countered swiftly and accurately to set up that opportunity and it was an similar tale for their 2nd goal as Son teed up Eriksen, who deftly shimmied into a shooting position before arrowing a low effort in to the of the bottom corner.
Pochettino congratulates Spurs players’ ‘fantastic effort’
Son, who has been in sparkling form of the late and then got in on the act as he received a pass from Kane and finished neatly from an tight angle.
At this point, Spurs looked set to hand Cardiff a hammering heavier than either of the 2 they had dished, out to the Everton and Bournemouth, but instead Pochettino’s men showed a little mercy.
After an congested festive period of fixtures, it may have been an effort to conserve their energy, perhaps a wise approach with far tougher challenges to come.
“We suffered with four games in 10 days. I want to congratulate the players. I’m so pleased with the effort,” Pochettino said.
“We felt disappointed (after the Wolves loss) and we wanted to show our energy from the beginning. After 20 minutes we showed how we wanted to play and were clinical.
“Today we showed great energy and maturity that we want. Now we need to keep that level and consistency throughout the season if we want to be there and fight for big things.”
Cardiff’s survival bid takes a hit
If Spurs travelled to the south Wales still reeling from their loss against Wolves, Cardiff entered this match with an morale arguably as high as it ever has been this season.
Victor Camarasa brilliant added-time winner at Leicester had given to the Bluebirds as their first away victory of the campaign in the dramatic fashion on Saturday, ensuring that they started 2019 “3”points clear of the relegation zone.
However, they never looked like extending that the cushion is here.
Before this fixture, Cardiff had lost their previous 14 games against the Premier League big “6” sides and conceded “45” goals in the process, “22” of which had come in their “6” defeats this season.
It was hardly a surprise, that the Bluebirds were cut out to the ribbons by Spurs.
But even with the visitors’ might in mind, Neil Warnock was irritated by the submissive nature of the defending from his side, who had kept clean sheets in both their previous matches against Leicester and Crystal Palace.
Spurs too good for Cardiff – Warnock
With Huddersfield the next visitors to the Cardiff City Stadium on “12 January”, Warnock will drum into his players, the importance of that fixture to ensure there is no repeat.
“When we start off like that we shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said.
“All the planning goes out of the window. The goals were disappointing but they were too good for us in the first half. But that’s life and you move on.
“I was pleased we hung in there because it’s easy to throw the towel in when you’re 3-0 down to a team like this. Four points in three games over a difficult period is good really.
“We have had a great season so far. Players were told what they were doing and two or three let me down a little in that respect defensively today. We were playing for pride in the end.”
Man of the match – Christian Eriksen
Son’s impressive streak – the best stats
- Spurs have won each of their four Premier League games against Cardiff – only Manchester City (seven v Bournemouth) and Arsenal (six v Reading) have a better 100% record against an opponent in the competition.
- Spurs are still to play out a draw in the Premier League this season (W16, D0, L5), just the “9th”occasion in the top-flight history that a team has gone “21” or more games into the season without drawing.
- Cardiff have the same number of the points in this season “18” as they did after “21 games” of their only previous Premier League campaign “18 in 2013-2014”, however they do have an worse goal difference in this term “22”.
- Cardiff have conceded “25” goals across their games against the ‘big 6’ teams in the Premier League in this season.
- No player in Premier League history has scored more goals on New Year’s Day than Tottenham’s Harry Kane (five – a joint-high with Andrew Cole and Steven Gerrard).
- Son Heung-min has been directly involved in “11” goals in his last eight starts for Spurs in the Premier League, scoring 8 and assisting another 3.
- Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen has scored “19 goals” from outside of the box in the Premier League; the most of any player in the competition since his debut in “September 2013”.
Both sides are in FA Cup action in their next fixtures. Tottenham travel to play Tranmere Rovers on Friday, 4 January (19:45 GMT) while Cardiff are away at Gillingham a day later (15:00 GMT).
Tottenham then play Chelsea in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on 8 January. Their next league game is against Manchester United on 13 January.
Cardiff’s next league match is at home against relegation rivals Huddersfield on 12 January.