CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Paulinho scored his first Premier League goal in stoppage time Sunday as Tottenham broke through Cardiff's resistance to win 1-0 to join north London rival Arsenal at the top of the standings.
Tottenham dominated large sections of the game in south Wales but goalkeeper David Marshall made crucial saves from Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Paulinho. Paulinho finally ensured Tottenham left Cardiff with something to show for its dominance as the Brazil midfielder backheeled in Erik Lamela's pass from close range in the third minute of stoppage time.
"We played so much football it would have been unfair to leave here with only one point," Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said. "We got our reward in the end, but with the chances we created, if it wasn't for Marshall, it could have been a more comfortable game."
The victory ensured Tottenham finished the weekend level at the top of the league with Arsenal but behind on goal difference after its neighbors beat Stoke 3-1. Cardiff created few clear chances but felt it had twice come out on the wrong end of decisions by the officials.
The first came when Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris appeared to handle outside his area as Fraizer Campbell attempted to round him, although replays suggested it was a very tight call. The second saw Ben Turner's header from a corner chalked off after Aron Gunnarsson was adjudged to have impeded Lloris.
Although Spurs would take a stranglehold on proceedings, Cardiff made a purposeful opening, with Kevin Theophile-Catherine heavily involved on his home debut. The Bluebirds should have led in the seventh minute. Kyle Naughton's misdirected pass was left by Michael Dawson, but lacked the weight to get back to Lloris.
Campbell pounced but he was robbed of the ball as he attempted to round Lloris on the edge of the box, with replays suggesting the goalkeeper had handled outside his area. Tottenham steadily assumed control, crafting a fine chance for Soldado, after a thrilling burst from Andros Townsend, but Marshall was able to turn the striker's shot round the post.
Kyle Walker followed the winger's lead as he took off from inside his own half on a run that took him into the Cardiff box, where Ben Turner made a crucial tackle. Marshall soon found himself severely overworked saving twice from Eriksen, the second coming after Turner had recovered from being horribly exposed by Soldado to get a block in.
Sigurdsson also stung the Scotland goalkeeper's palms, but Cardiff then enjoyed a better spell up to half time, and was aggrieved not to be leading at the break. Lloris' poor control of a back pass gifted Cardiff a corner, which Turner headed in at the far post, but referee Mark Clattenburg ruled the keeper had been impeded by Gunnarsson.
Cardiff's gradual improvement continued at the start of the second half, with Craig Bellamy racing clear only for Lloris to cut out his pull-back for Peter Whittingham. But the hosts were again indebted to Marshall moments later. Sigurdsson's shot from the edge of the box came back off the crossbar to fall to Soldado in acres of space, but he was again denied by the 'keeper's legs.
Sigurdsson was involved once more when he scampered around Theophile-Catherine to tee up Paulinho, but again Marshall was up to the task. The hosts spurned a great chance to win it as Peter Odemwingie evaded Jan Vertonghen and pulled back for Gunnarsson, who fired high over the bar.
Marshall saved from Paulinho at the other end, but could do nothing to keep out the Brazilian's final effort from inside the six-yard box. "I don't think what you deserve comes into it, that's the harsh reality," Cardiff manager Malky Mackay said. "They were clinical in the last minute and we weren't in the first minutes when we were through on goal."
Cardiff is 16th with five points from five matches.