Spurs beat Aston Villa to overtake West Ham and move within one point of top four
Tottenham climbed into fifth place and sit just one point outside the top four in the Premier League after a 3-1 home win over Aston Villa on Monday night.
With Villa’s new boss Remi Garde sitting in the stands at White Hart Lane to observe the basement boys, Spurs seemed set for a comfortable evening, with Mousa Dembele giving them the lead in the third minute and Dele Alli doubling the advantage in first-half injury time.
There appeared to be little chance of a comeback but Jordan Ayew came off the bench to halve the deficit 11 minutes from time, and Rudy Gestede and Ayew both went close to an equaliser – but Spurs had the final say as Harry Kane struck in the final moments.
The Lilywhites consequently moved above London rivals West Ham on goal difference while maintaining the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League this season – now 10 top-flight matches.
Mauricio Pochettino named an unchanged line-up from the side that triumphed 5-1 away against Bournemouth eight days previously.
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Spurs had conceded inside the first minute on the south coast, but they made the perfect start against Villa, opening the scoring in the third minute.
There seemed little danger for the visitors as Danny Rose played the ball down the left touchline to Dembele, but the Belgian used his strength to muscle past Ciaran Clark and then surge into the box before firing between Brad Guzan’s legs.
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Villa had a sight of goal in the 11th minute as Scott Sinclair squeezed between Kyle Walker and Erik Lamela and forced a save from Hugo Lloris, but that was the only stop the Frenchman had to make in the first half.
At the other end, Kane got in behind the visitors’ defence and cut back before shooting, with his effort deflecting off ex-Spurs defender Alan Hutton and being tipped over the bar by Guzan. The corner was played in hard and low to Rose, who sent a dipping first-time effort just over.
Villa lost Ashley Westwood as the midfielder was dazed by a flailing arm from Dembele and had to be helped down the tunnel – and Tottenham doubled their lead in first-half injury time.
Christian Eriksen sidestepped Leandro Bacuna and, although his pass out to Rose was a little overhit, the left-back dug out a cross towards Kane, which was headed out to Alli – and the 19-year-old cushioned the ball before driving a low volley into the bottom left corner.
There seemed little chance of Villa getting back into the game and Rose headed over from a Lamela cross after the break.
But Spurs let their foot off the gas and began to make clumsy errors. A loose pass from the previously assured Dier gave Gestede a clear sight of goal, and it needed a sliding block from Jan Vertonghen to deflect the ball over the bar.
Villa did pull a goal back in the 79th minute though. Substitute Ryan Mason, who had replaced Dembele, was involved in a mix-up with Dier as the pair left the ball to each other, and Ayew’s shot deflected off Vertonghen and nestled in the bottom left corner.
Suddenly there were nerves all around the Lane, and Gestede went close to a leveller, leaping above Spurs substitute Ben Davies to meet a cross. Lloris had rushed from his goal but got nowhere near the ball so the net was gaping, but Gestede directed his header just wide. Ayew then cut inside off the left flank and sent a rasping 25-yard shot just over the bar.
But Tottenham gathered themselves and put the result beyond doubt with an injury-time break. Eriksen freed Erik Lamela on the right side of the box and the Argentine instantly played a low first-time ball in to Kane, who was left one on one with Guzan and whipped the ball into the top right corner.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose (Davies 82), Dier, Alli (Onomah 89), Lamela, Dembele (Mason 68), Eriksen, Kane
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs