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Sherwood hails Spurs match-winner Soldado

Soldado scored the only goal of the game at White Hart Lane on Sunday, finding the net for the first time this year with an instinctive 28th-minute finish.

The Spanish striker has faced criticism for his performances this season, having scored just five goals - including four penalties - in 22 Premier League outings before this weekend following his big-money move from Valencia.

But Sherwood, who succeeded Andre Villas-Boas as Tottenham boss in December, was keen to laud Soldado for his persistence and hard work.

He said: "I was delighted for Robbie - you saw the way the lads all celebrated with him and how much it means.

"He's a great character around the place. The boys love him and they want him to do very, very well, as I do. If I could have picked anyone to score that winning goal, it would have been him.

"He's never a moment's problem. He's a true professional and he gets on with his training. He wants to improve and he knows he's been in a bit of a sticky spell, but I always looked him in the eye and knew that he had the belief.

"Obviously you look at history with Robbie because he's not done it in the Premier League, but he's scored in a top league in Spain and you know what he's capable of.

"If he wasn't showing any desire in training and any real belief that he could turn it around, then I would have left him out, but he's not given me any reason to leave him out.

"I have stuck by him and I believe that he will come good. I still maintain that."

Sherwood sparked laughter among the assembled journalists when he added with a smile: "We're just hoping this is a platform for him to score 20 goals between now and the end of the season."

Tottenham have often struggled this season when returning to domestic action after UEFA Europa League fixtures, but were able to build on a midweek win over Dnipro on this occasion.

"It wasn't great, but it can't always be great," said Sherwood of his side's performance.

"You don't win leagues or qualify for Europe by playing magnificent, free-flowing football every week. Sometimes you have to dig deep and dig out a result and I thought we did that.

"To get three points and win ugly is very important."