Tottenham 1-0 Cardiff City: Roberto Soldado puts scoring woes in past (video)

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It was a look of both joy and relief on the face of Roberto Soldado as he poked in Emmanuel Adebayor’s cross from close range and put Tottenham into the lead.

For a much-troubled man on the pitch for much of the season, the goal represented a huge weight off his shoulders as he had faced the brunt of criticism from Spurs fans for their slip-ups this season.

But the Spaniard put that all behind him, grabbing a bunny of a goal after a great run to earn the home side all three points at White Hart Lane to send Cardiff City further into the depths of the relegation zone.

Spurs started well, but as the story’s been for the last few months, Soldado missed the game’s first chance with a mistimed header inside the opening five minutes.

Headers remained Spurs best chance at going in front, as Michael Dawson couldn’t direct his past David Marshall on a 17th minute free-kick.

source: AP
Roberto Soldado finally showed flashes of his Valencia form from last year, finally finishing from open play.

They were incisive, albeit lacking the final touch, but relief not just in the game but in the season came for Soldado as Spurs went in front.

In the 28th minute, the Spaniard made a run that sliced up the Cardiff defense, and Adebayor found him in the middle of the box.  Gary Medel failed to cut off the passing lane, and Soldado didn’t miss this time with an easy tap-in.

Spurs went in front 1-0, and Soldado picked up just his second Premier League goal from open play this season, his sixth overall.

It was mostly Spurs from there, as the home side controlled the pace and possession in the second half.  Cardiff City looked to throw everything they had forward, but it was to no avail as Spurs held serve with relative ease.

Substitute Harry Kane nearly picked up his first Premier League goal for Spurs but one-on-one he could not beat Marshall.

The win pulls Spurs within five points of fourth place, but they still have plenty of work to do and a little outside help to catch Manchester City in the final Champions League spot.

For Cardiff City, they remain a point off the bottom of the table, and have a vital match with 20th placed Fulham next weekend, with a loser in that one potentially doomed to the drop.

LINEUPS:

Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Fryers; Lennon, Dembele, Paulinho (Sandro 73′), Townsend (Chadli 70′); Adebayor, Soldado.

Goals – Soldado 28′

Cardiff City – Marshall; Caulker, Turner, Fabio (Jones 73′), John; Medel, Campbell, Kim, Gunnarsson (Daehli 63′), Cala; Bellamy (Mutch 63′).

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.