Roberto Soldado scored his first goal in nine games as Tottenham beat Cardiff to close the gap to fourth-placed Manchester City.

The Spanish striker was hugely relieved as he swept in after a counter-attack for his 11th goal of the season.

Cardiff's Steven Caulker almost scored against his former club when he hit the crossbar from two yards.

Solskjaer bemoans fine margins in defeat

Declan John also tested Hugo Lloris but the Bluebirds remain second from bottom of the Premier League.

Defeat for Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer means his side are still three points from safety and failed to overtake third-bottom Sunderland, who were beaten by Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final.

In front of watching owner Vincent Tan, the Norwegian stretched his poor record to just one win from eight Premier League games since he took charge at the start of January.

After their 4-0 thumping at home to Hull last weekend, it was clear Solskjaer intended to give his side greater assurance by employing three centre-backs, allowing wing-backs John and Fabio to race down the flanks.

Although they caused problems in the first half, Cardiff did not exert any sustained pressure on the Spurs goal after the interval and have only 10 matches to save their season, with bottom-of-the-table Fulham their next opponents.

Come back Malky?

When Solskjaer took over, Cardiff were 17th in the table, and four points off the bottom - since then, they have scored just four goals, conceded 17, and are 19th, one point off the bottom

Victory for Tim Sherwood's Spurs, meanwhile, was a positive response to their 1-0 defeat by Norwich in their previous league game as they kept their Champions League hopes on track.

They are four points adrift of Manchester City, who have two games in hand, but if they are to make it into the top four they will need to find more energy against league leaders Chelsea and third-placed Arsenal in their next two games.

The hosts struggled to break down a well-organised Cardiff team, whose game plan almost completely disintegrated when Craig Bellamy, back from suspension, nearly talked himself into an early sending-off.

Bellamy was booked by referee Phil Dowd for dissent as he protested against a deserved yellow card for Kim Bo-Kyung, and only what seemed a last-minute change of mind from the official saved him from being dismissed.

Sherwood says Spurs 'won ugly'

Though Cardiff's new approach appeared to be working, they went behind from a quick Spurs counter-attack.

Andros Townsend broke forward following a Cardiff free-kick, passed inside to Emmanuel Adebayor and the Togolese striker fed the onrushing Soldado, who took one touch and found the bottom corner.

Cardiff almost struck back instantly when Caulker headed against the woodwork following a corner, and John later raced forward but was denied at the near post by Lloris.

The hosts began to reassert their authority after the break and came very close to earning a penalty when John tripped Aaron Lennon on the corner of the area, but Dowd decided the first contact was outside the box.

With an hour gone, Solskjaer decided to play four defenders at the back as he introduced Kenwyne Jones.

But he made little impression and Spurs came closest to scoring in an underwhelming second half when David Marshall saved substitute Harry Kane's effort.

For match photos from Sunday's games visit the BBC Sport Facebook page 

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

Tottenham Hotspur

  • 25 Lloris
  • 16 Naughton
  • 35 Fryers
  • 19 Dembélé
  • 20 Dawson
  • 05 Vertonghen
  • 07 Lennon
  • 08 Paulinho (Sandro - 73' Booked )
  • 09 Soldado (Kane - 83' )
  • 10 Adebayor
  • 17 Townsend (Chadli - 70' )

Substitutes

  • 21 Chadli
  • 22 Sigurdsson
  • 24 Friedel
  • 30 Sandro
  • 37 Kane
  • 42 Bentaleb
  • 51 Veljkovic

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 35 Fabio (Jones - 73' )
  • 42 John
  • 06 Turner
  • 27 Torres Ruiz Booked
  • 04 Caulker
  • 17 Gunnarsson (Daehli - 63' )
  • 08 Medel
  • 39 Bellamy Booked (Mutch - 63' )
  • 10 Campbell
  • 13 Kim Bo-kyung Booked

Substitutes

  • 09 Jones
  • 18 Mutch
  • 19 Cowie
  • 28 Théophile-Catherine
  • 29 Daehli
  • 32 Lewis
  • 36 Zaha
Ref: Phil Dowd
Att: 35,512

Match Stats

Shots

15 8

On target

6 2

Corners

4 7

Fouls

11 12

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0.

90:00 +4:50 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0.

90:00 +4:20 Booking

Booking Cala (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +3:51

Offside, Cardiff City. Ben Turner tries a through ball, but Cala is caught offside.

90:00 +3:21

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Hugo Lloris.

90:00 +2:48

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Ezekiel Fryers.

90:00 +1:49

Foul by Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur).

90:00 +1:49

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:54

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Declan John.

88:33

Attempt saved. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nacer Chadli.

87:32 Booking

Booking Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

87:20

Foul by Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur).

87:20

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:06

Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

86:06

Foul by Ben Turner (Cardiff City).

84:09

Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.

84:09

Foul by Cala (Cardiff City).

82:46 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane replaces Roberto Soldado.

81:47

Attempt blocked. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

80:40

Foul by Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur).

80:40

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

76:48

Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Roberto Soldado tries a through ball, but Nacer Chadli is caught offside.

74:53

Attempt saved. Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kyle Naughton.

74:24

Attempt blocked. Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor.

73:35

Foul by Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur).

73:35

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

72:14 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Kenwyne Jones replaces Fabio because of an injury.

72:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Sandro replaces Paulinho.

71:38

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

70:55

Delay in match Fabio (Cardiff City) because of an injury.

70:08

Ezekiel Fryers (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

70:08

Foul by Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City).

69:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Nacer Chadli replaces Andros Townsend.

67:08

Offside, Cardiff City. Gary Medel tries a through ball, but Fraizer Campbell is caught offside.

64:27

Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

64:27

Foul by Ben Turner (Cardiff City).

62:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Jordon Mutch replaces Craig Bellamy.

62:43 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Mats Daehli replaces Aron Gunnarsson.

60:59

Attempt saved. Fabio (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kim Bo-Kyung.

59:42

Attempt missed. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

58:07

Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

58:07

Foul by Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City).

57:35

Foul by Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur).

57:35

Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

55:03

Foul by Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur).

55:03

Fabio (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

53:48

Offside, Cardiff City. Kim Bo-Kyung tries a through ball, but Craig Bellamy is caught offside.

52:38

Attempt saved. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

51:37

Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

51:37

Foul by Declan John (Cardiff City).

48:45

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Michael Dawson.

48:37

Attempt blocked. Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fabio.

47:47

Foul by Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur).

47:47

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00

Second Half begins Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0.

45:00 +2:05 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0.

44:10

Offside, Cardiff City. Kim Bo-Kyung tries a through ball, but Fabio is caught offside.

41:57

Attempt missed. Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Andros Townsend.

40:44

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Hugo Lloris.

40:40

Attempt saved. Declan John (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Kim Bo-Kyung.

33:23

Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

33:23

Foul by Cala (Cardiff City).

31:52

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Jan Vertonghen.

29:44

Attempt blocked. Cala (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

29:42

Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) hits the bar with a header from very close range. Assisted by Craig Bellamy with a cross following a corner.

29:14

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Michael Dawson.

27:46 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0. Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor following a fast break.

27:00

Foul by Kyle Naughton (Tottenham Hotspur).

27:00

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

26:19

Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Emmanuel Adebayor tries a through ball, but Roberto Soldado is caught offside.

23:09

Attempt blocked. Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor.

22:05

Foul by Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur).

22:05

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

20:28

Attempt missed. Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by Kyle Naughton with a cross following a corner.

20:02

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Cala.

18:37

Attempt missed. Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Roberto Soldado with a headed pass following a corner.

18:15

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Kim Bo-Kyung.

17:41

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Cala.

16:55

Offside, Cardiff City. Gary Medel tries a through ball, but Fabio is caught offside.

15:53

Attempt saved. Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kyle Naughton with a cross.

15:17

Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.

15:17

Foul by Fabio (Cardiff City).

14:50

Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:50

Foul by Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).

14:03

Foul by Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur).

14:03

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

13:51

Attempt saved. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mousa Dembélé.

11:50 Booking

Booking Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card.

11:20 Booking

Booking Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

11:09

Ezekiel Fryers (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

11:09

Foul by Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).

10:31

Attempt blocked. Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

9:38

Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

9:38

Foul by Fabio (Cardiff City).

7:16

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Michael Dawson.

7:14

Attempt blocked. Fabio (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Craig Bellamy.

6:15

Attempt missed. Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

5:31

Foul by Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur).

5:31

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:05

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:05

Foul by Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City).

2:24

Attempt missed. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

1:13

Attempt missed. Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Aaron Lennon with a cross.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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