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    Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 1 Aston Villa - Match Report

    by Conall Green

    Tottenham extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 games while condemning Aston Villa to a seventh consecutive league defeat.

    Goals from Moussa Dembele, Dele Alli and Harry Kane secured what was for the most part a routine win for Spurs, with Jordan Ayew scoring in response for Villa.

    With new boss Remi Garde watching from the stands, caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald made three changes to the Villa side that lost to Southampton in the League Cup last Wednesday, with Jose Crespo, Jordan Amavi and Rudy Gestede making way for Ciaran Clark, Jack Grealish and Scott Sinclair. Mauricio Pochettino unsurprisingly named the same Spurs 11 that thrashed Bournemouth 5-1 last time out.

    It did not take long for Spurs to pick up where they left off against the Cherries, with the deadlock being broken before the game was three minutes old. Left back Danny Rose floated a hopeful ball up the left hand side to Moussa Dembele, who rolled Ciaran Clark. The Irishman then proceeded to try and foul the Belgian powerhouse, but Dembele shrugged him off to slot through Brad Guzan’s legs in the Villa goal after a good advantage was signalled by referee Mike Dean. It was a well taken goal by Dembele, but a totally avoidable one from a defensive perspective.

    Villa almost responded in the 11th minute, with Scott Sinclair using clever footwork to cut in off the left hand side and create space for a shot, but his powerful effort was straight at Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal who was able to beat it away. Jack Grealish followed up, but volleyed the rebound a couple of yards wide of the target.

    Spurs could have doubled their advantage in the 24th minute, Harry Kane being denied when his deflected effort was tipped over the bar by Guzan.

    In the 34th minute Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood was caught in the face by the flailing arm of Spurs’ goalscorer Dembele, and although Mike Dean was stationed only yards away, he did not consider the incident a foul. To make matters worse, he allowed play to continue around the stricken Westwood despite it being a clear head injury, with the concussed Westwood being replaced by Jordan Ayew after finally receiving medical attention.

    Spurs added to their lead in the stoppage time added on for the Westwood injury, and it was the impressive 19 year old midfielder Dele Alli who doubled the home side’s advantage. Danny Rose’s cross was half cleared to the edge of the area, where Alli, signed for £5 million pounds from MK dons earlier this year, showed great composure to take the ball down on his thigh before firing a volley low into the corner.

    This prompted a change from the visitors at the interval, with the anonymous Gabriel Agbonlahor being replaced with the physical presence of Rudy Gestede. This change of tact did not change the pattern of the game however, and Spurs continued to control the game without looking likely to extend their lead. That was until the introduction of Carles Gil, who replaced Grealish after 65 minutes. The Spaniard looked neat and tidy, and it was his interception after 75 minutes from some slack Spurs passing that created Villa’s first real chance of the second period, but Gestede failed to hit the target when well placed at the edge of the area.

    Three minutes later Villa went close again, with Dutchman Leandro Bacuna unlucky not to score, cutting in off the left before hitting the post with a precise effort from twenty yards.

    Less than a minute later however, Villa had found a way back into the game. Jordan Ayew received the ball after a mix up in midfield by Tottenham, and he advanced towards goal before pulling the trigger from twenty yards. His low shot took a slight deflection off Jan Vertonghen, which took it past the stranded Lloris and into the corner of the net.

    After finding an unlikely way back into the game, the team at the foot of the table finally played with some belief, and almost levelled on more than one occasion soon after. Firstly, in the 83rd minute, Rudy Gestede beat Lloris to a high floated cross from Bacuna, but the Benin international could only nod the ball wide with the French goalkeeper stranded in no-man's land.

    Then, two minutes later, Ayew, confident after two goals in two games, whipped a shot that only just failed to find Lloris’ top corner.

    It was to prove to be Villa’s last chance, with some neat footwork from Erik Lamela helping to kill time in both corners before Spurs added some deserved gloss their victory with a third goal in the 93rd minute. It came at the end of an incisive counter attack that involved Christian Eriksson, before Lamela squared the ball to Kane to sweep the ball into the top corner with the Villa defence caught upfield.

    It was a result that keeps Pochettino’s side well in the hunt for a Champions League place at the end of the season, now sitting only a point behind Manchester United in fourth and five off Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table.

    For Remi Garde, he knows he will face a baptism of fire when league leaders City travel to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.

    Man of the match: Dele Alli. The youngster took his goal with aplomb and looked composed and industrious throughout.
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    Item Reviewed: Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 1 Aston Villa - Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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