Aston Villa 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Scorers: Townsend, Soldado
Team: Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Vertonghen; Paulinho, Sandro; Townsend, Holtby (Dembele), Sigurdsson (Lennon); Soldado (Defoe) Subs: (unused) Friedel, Naughton, Eriksen, Lamela
Tottenham had made four changes to the team which lost at home to West Ham but there was little improvement in their play in the first half at Villa Park. Villa were allowing them possession but by hard work were denying the Spurs defenders the opportunity to play out from the back which was causing difficulties for Hugo Lloris and his back four.
The match was rather frantic early on but with little flowing or constructive football. An early Villa cross was miss-kicked by Dawson but Agbonlahor put his shot over the bar. Spurs threatened with a cross from the left after 6 minutes when Jan Vertonghen linked with Roberto Soldado but no-one was able to get on the end of it.
Spurs were probing to find a way through the Villa defence but even with 67% possession in the opening 15 minutes, Spurs’ play was slow and causing Villa few problems. Sandro had a shot straight at the goalkeeper but then Villa upped the tempo and pressed Spurs as they tried to play out from the back keeping them in their own half.
On 20 minutes a Villa free-kick troubled Lloris as it bounced in front of him but he managed to get his hands to the ball to clear. Five minutes later it was a Spurs free-kick from Holtby which caused Villa difficulty but neither Dawson nor Vertonghen could get a final touch. The Villa pressing continued to trouble Spurs who were fortunate when they lost possession with poor passing in defence but Villa shot over.
On half an hour, Spurs put together a little movement which produced the goal scored by Townsend, his first Premier League goal for Tottenham. Holtby found space in front of the Villa defence and played the ball to Soldado. He laid it across to Townsend and with Holtby and Soldado going to the near post Guzan was distracted and the cross went straight in. In the aftermath of the goal a flare was thrown onto the pitch and hit the assistant referee.
Villa responded to the set-back but shot over and then Townsend had a shot blocked after Soldado had linked up with him. Michael Dawson put in a vital clearance as Villa threatened on the break as half-time approached. In the final seconds of the half, Townsend had a low shot pushed out for a corner by the goalkeeper.
Tottenham were ahead but were making very hard work of it against a Villa side who were working hard to stop them and counter-attack when the opportunity arose. Spurs started more purposefully after the interval and were more positive in their approach, pressing Villa much more quickly. After three minutes Townsend had a shot over and a minute later Soldado from a Vertonghen throw, flicked the ball on to Paulinho whose shot from the edge of the area was well saved by the goalkeeper.
Townsend was having much more impact now with his pace and direct running. Before the interval he’d been double marked and was being given little space to run into. On 55 minutes he received the ball from Soldado on the wing and went forward to deliver a cross into the box but there was no-one there, Soldado having been involved in the build-up. A few minutes later, Townsend was again the provider but with the same result.Tottenham were definitely on top with Townsend causing Villa serious problems but they hadn’t managed to take advantage. With half an hour to play, Benteke was introduced by Villa and he made an immediate impression on the match as Villa raised their game and the crowd’s expectations grew. Benteke troubled Spurs in the air and had two headers within minutes of coming on. Villa were looking for an equaliser and Spurs weren’t just as comfortable now, having been in control during the early stages of the half. Aaron Lennon replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson and three minutes later Spurs were two goals up. Spurs broke on the left with Holtby finding Paulinho who played the ball in for Soldado who showed his goalscoring ability to give the goalkeeper no chance – his first goal from open play in the league.
Minutes later, Paulinho could have made the points secure but his header was straight at the goalkeeper. Spurs continued to press while the fight seemed to have gone out of Villa. Townsend curled a shot over and Paulinho missed an even easier header from a cross by Townsend. Villa tried to counter-attack but Spurs were playing out time with Townsend continuing to be a threat.
Spurs 11th game unbeaten against Villa with the 3 points returning them to 5th in the league, three points behind Arsenal. Next they face the long journey to Moldova to play Sheriff in the Europa League with Hull City at home in the following two games.
Andre Villas-Boas was pleased with the result and the way the team responded to the defeat against West Ham. On @SpursOfficial he said,
We gave the opportunity to players who did well in the Europa League & they repaid us. I’m really pleased with how the team played.
He praised Sandro and Andros Townsend on their performances against Villa, saying,
Andros Townsend is always a threat, he creates problems. It was a wonderful performance. Sandro’s confidence is high, looks strong physically. It’s difficult against a physical team like Villa & he did superbly.