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′).

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.