Tottenham Hotspur made it two wins out of two at the start of the Premier League season with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Swansea City at White Hart Lane.
Roberto Soldado scored a penalty for the second weekend running in the 58th minute, although Swansea will feel aggrieved that the spot-kick was given.
Spurs lacked the bite missing through Gareth Bale’s departure, but Andros Townsend impressed as the home side picked up the three points.
It was the Welsh side who dominated the opening stages and forced the first meaningful save of the game from Hugo Lloris. The ball broke to Wayne Routledge on the edge of the box and the winger, who had an unsuccessful spell at Spurs between 2005 and 2008, drove a powerful effort towards the bottom corner, but Lloris made a fantastic save to keep it out.
Spurs came close to opening the scoring in the 21st minute, and it didn’t even come from one of their own shots. Kyle Walker got forward and flashed in a powerful cross that Soldado would have headed in if Ashley Williams hadn’t got in the way of the cross, but the centre-back’s diving header came thumping back off the post and away to safety. It was very lucky for the Welsh defender, but Spurs were kicking into gear.
Both Etienne Capoue and Paulinho sent efforts well wide before Walker picked out Mousa Dembele on the edge of the box, but the Belgian midfielder hit his shot with his weaker right foot and it allowed Michel Vorm to pull off a vital save. The wide areas were proving to be a problem for Swansea and they went very close to being behind in the 38th minute.
Nacer Chadli skipped past Angel Rangel on the left wing and clipped in a cross to the penalty spot where Paulinho was waiting, but the Brazilian’s volley was sent down off the ground and bounced inches over the crossbar. It was very unlucky and Vorm was left with no chance in the Swansea goal.
One of the biggest talking points of the game occurred on the verge of half-time. Townsend went on a mazy run, beating two players before going down under the challenge of Jonjo Shelvey just inside the penalty area. It was a stone-wall penalty, but the referee, Andre Marriner, came to the decision with the help of his linesman that Townsend was fouled just outside the box and gave a free-kick. Replays showed it was a bad decision and tempers were high at White Hart Lane throughout the interval.
Townsend was running the game for Tottenham and that continued into the second half. The England winger let fly from25 yards with a dipping, swerving effort that looked destined to open the scoring, but Vorm came up with a superb save to claw the ball away from the top corner and away to safety. It was a fantastic save, but Vorm would be beaten in the 58th minute.
The goal came from a penalty, but for the second time in the game, Marriner made a wrong call. It was Townsend and Shelvey involved again, but this time, Shelvey didn’t trip the winger and Townsend took a dive. Marriner fell for it hook, line and sinker and gave the penalty. Possibly, Marriner felt like he should have gave the earlier penalty and made the decision right, but Swansea will feel rightfully angry by the decision. Soldado didn’t care though as the Spain striker smashed in his second Premier League goal from 12 yards.
The Swans were not giving up hope though and worked a couple of good opportunities to get level. The first one was all down to Pablo Hernandez as the tricky winger came inside onto his right foot and curled towards the bottom corner from 20 yards, but his shot fell inches wide. The next chance fell to the unlikely volley of Chico Flores. The central defender spectacularly sent Shelvey’s corner towards goal, but Lloris pulled out a great save to tip the ball over.
The save proved vital as Tottenham saw out the game and picked up the three points. The performance may not have been great, but Andre Villas-Boas will take positives from the fact they are winning when they are not playing well. For Swansea, they will be hoping their bad luck with the officials turns around throughout the season.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)