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Soldado ends goal drought while Villa make their move

ESPN staff
March 2, 2014 « Final goal my best ever - Toure | Chartbeat test »
Roberto Soldado scores his first goal in 2014 to put Tottenham ahead against Cardiff © Getty Images
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Roberto Soldado ended a tortuous spell in front of goal to give Tottenham a key victory against Cardiff City in their hunt for a top-four finish in the Premier League, while Aston Villa were the big movers in the bottom half of the table.

Soldado made the breakthrough for Tottenham on 28 minutes at White Hart Lane as he rounded off a clinical counter-attack having been set up by Emmanuel Adebayor. It was the Spanish striker's first goal of 2014 and his relief showed in his celebrations, while his team-mates mobbed him in jubilation.

Cardiff almost equalised immediately after as Steven Caulker, against his former club, contrived to hit the bar with a header from close range with the goal gaping.

Chances were few and far between in the second half, with David Marshall making one stop late on to deny Harry Kane, and the result leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with four defeats and a draw in his last five matches.

Aston Villa produced an astonishing 14-minute goal spree to sweep aside the challenge of Norwich City with a 4-1 victory at Villa Park.

Wes Hoolahan put Norwich ahead early with the final touch on a slick move, but his celebrations were muted against a club who had tried to sign him in the January transfer window and could still make a move for him in the summer.

However, the match was won with an incredible spell from Villa. First, Christian Benteke equalised with a superb overhead kick that left John Ruddy grasping thin air, then he doubled his tally to put Villa ahead by outmuscling Sebastian Bassong at a corner kick and heading home from six yards.

Leandro Bacuna scored Villa's third goal with a composed finish after a sweeping counter-attack, curling his shot in off the post, and the misery kept coming for Norwich as a low cross was turned into his own net by Bassong for the fourth Villa goal.

Villa are now seven points clear of the drop zone, while Norwich lie 15th, sandwiched between Swansea City and Crystal Palace after they drew 1-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea took the lead on 25 minutes when Ashley Williams, Wilfried Bony and Leon Britton combined in a move that set up Jonathan de Guzman to score from 14 yards out.

The afternoon soon got worse for Palace as striker Marouane Chamakh was forced off with a hamstring injury that could impact upon his contribution over a crucial spell of fixtures in their battle to beat the drop. The visitors had Julian Speroni to thank for not falling further behind before half-time as he made a superb one-handed save to deny Bony.

However, with nine minutes to go, Palace earned themselves a reprieve as Chico Flores saw red for bringing down Glenn Murray, who stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, his first goal in the Premier League.

There was drama in stoppage time as Jerome Thomas crumbled under a challenge from Swansea's Jose Canas in the penalty area, but the Palace man was booked for diving rather than seeing his side be awarded another spot-kick.

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