Controversy: Roberto Soldado Penalty As Tottenham Struggle To Beat Hull


Roberto Soldado – cool penalty for the only goal against Hull. [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]A controversial second half penalty for hand-ball gave Roberto Soldado the chance to score the only goal of the game at White Hart Lane as Tottenham took the three points in a tight game against a disciplined Hull City team. Spurs move into 4th position, three points behind leaders, Arsenal.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Hull City 0

Scorer: Soldado (pen)

Team: Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Vertonghen; Paulinho, Sandro (Dembele); Townsend, Holtby (Eriksen), Lennon (Defoe); Soldado  Subs: (unused) Friedel, Naughton, Lamela, Sigurdsson

A bold, attacking line-up from Andre Villas-Boas with both Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon in the starting line-up. As I suggested in the preview, the introduction of Lennon for Gylfi Sigurdsson was the only change from the team which defeated Aston Villa last weekend. Sigurdsson can count himself unfortunate to miss out but with both Lennon and Townsend in the team this should help Spurs as an attacking force with width, pace and trickery against a well-organised defence, something Tottenham have struggled against this season, especially at home.

The first half turned out to be more of the same for Tottenham at home this season. They started brightly at a good tempo but Hull defended in depth and grew in confidence as the half progressed to put Spurs defence under considerable pressure at times. Lennon had an early shot blocked when he volleyed the ball after a clearance fell to him just outside the area. As Hull got forward they won the first of a number of free-kicks which Tom Huddlestone delivered with accuracy causing Spurs a few uncomfortable moments. A foul on Lewis Holtby brought a Spurs’ free-kick which he took and Paulinho got a touch  but the ball went over the bar.

In the opening 15 minutes, Spurs had 65% possession but Steve Harper, the Hull goalkeeper, was rarely troubled although he did well to push out a strike by Townsend seconds later. Two minutes after this, Hull had their first meaningful strike at goal which Lloris gathered comfortably. Both teams were giving the ball away to easily which brought about another chance for the visitors, Lloris saving low from Sagbo, gathering the ball at the second attempt. A Huddlestone free-kick caused confusion in the Spurs defence as they blocked shots and eventually cleared.

A break by Spurs ended in a corner as Soldado lacked the pace to get behind the defence. Hull were having greater possession, pressure and threat but Holtby broke from a Hull corner but shot weakly with two players waiting for a pass. Good passing by Spurs put Paulinho free on the right but a defender got a touch to his cross to take the ball away from Soldado.

A Hull corner was headed out to Huddlestone but his shot went over the bar. Spurs then had a period of pressure, keeping Hull hemmed back in their own half but they couldn’t find a way through or around the Hull defence. A forward run by Chiriches was stopped on the edge of the area and from the free-kick Walker’s powerful shot was blocked by Harper. In the final minutes of the half a cross from Lennon went out for a corner and Soldado headed on a cross from Townsend but it went past the post. Spurs had a late scare when Sandro misjudged a clearance.

The first half had been hard work for spurs against a very hard-working Hull team who were a threat when they moved forward, causing a few alarms in the Tottenham defence.

At half-time Mousa Dembele replaced Sandro and Lennon and Townsend switched wings but there was little difference in the pattern of play although as the match went on the Hull forward threat became less frequent. After 53 minutes Harper held a strike from another Walker free-kick and then in a Spurs counter-attack through Townsend to Soldado, the goalkeeper made a good save low to his left to deny the Spaniard. Christian Eriksen came on for the last thirty minutes to replace Holtby but had little impact and Jermain Defoe replaced Lennon for the last 20 minutes. There was mounting Spurs pressure and possession around the Hull area but little to threaten the goal with Spurs often playing into the visitors’ hands by shooting from distance – Paulinho and Dembele being the culprits.

On 78 minutes came the crucial and controversial turning point of the match. A cross from the left by Jan Vertonghen struck the defender’s hand – it was a harsh decision as the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Soldado stepped up and coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and put the ball into the left corner of the net. Tottenham had a very fortunate lead and Steve Bruce raged on the touchline.

Tom Huddlestone came close to getting a goal. [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Hull responded and won a corner but on the break led by Townsend Spurs had five players charging into the area but the winger’s cross  was cleared easily. A minute later Townsend went over the hoarding  head-first into  the photographer’s pit behind the goal. A photograher needed attention and a stretcher was sent for as the match went on Spurs having to play with ten men. Six minutes later, Townsend appeared with his wrist bandaged, insisting that he wanted to go back onto the pitch. He played through the final few minutes and had a shot into the crowd as Spurs tried to play out time. There were a few nervy moments when two free-kicks were awarded in dangerous positions. Lloris held the first from Brady and in the final seconds of five added minutes, Tom Huddlestone lined up the second from the edge of the area but his shot went wide to sighs of relief all around White Hart Lane. The final whistle put an end to AVB’s torment.

Three points in another disappointing performance – Spurs really must find a way to break down well-organised defences in home games. It was a struggle but the result was the most important thing and the three points which take Spurs into 4th place. Lloris had his 10th clean sheet in all competitions this season and Soldado became only the second Tottenham player to score against Hull in the league at White Hart Lane since 1935. Spurs have a trip to Everton next weekend after another meeting with Hull in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.