SATURDAY 9TH APRIL, 2022
ASTON VILLA 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1)
Son , 3,66,71
Referee:- Graham Scott
Assistants:- Harry Lennard, Mark Scholes
Fourth official:- Craig Pawson.
VAR:- Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR:- Lee Betts
Villa (4-3-1-2):- Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings (Capt.), Digne (sub Young, 80); McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho (sub Buendia, 70); Ings (sub Bailey, 70), Watkins
Subs not used:- Olsen; Chambers; Sanson, Traore, Nakamba, Chukwuemeka
Booked:- Ings (foul on Reguilon), Young (foul on Kane)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson Royal, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Doherty (sub Reguilon, 21); Kulusevski (sub Bergwijn, 84), Kane, Son (sub Lucas Moura, 78)
Subs not used:- Gollini; Sanchez, Rodon, Sessegnon; Winks, White
Booked:- Booked: Hojbjerg (29 foul on Coutinho), Emerson Royal (74 foul on Digne), Kane (90+1 foul on Bailey)
The dream is on!
What a fantastic day it was for Spurs! Playing at tea-time after Everton had beaten Manchester United and Arsenal lost at home to Brighton, Spurs won 4-0 with a Son hat-trick and a superb Kulusevski goal to take a three point lead in fourth place. It seems hard to believe after some low days earlier in the season, but our Champions League dream is definitely on! Only 6 weeks ago, after defeat at Burnley, we had been in eighth place, seven points behind fourth placed Manchester United with a goal difference of minus one. Six wins in our last seven league games and 25 goals scored has seen us climb to fourth with a goal difference of plus nineteen! Antonio Conte’s name has been sung loud and clear at regular intervals including yesterday.
Spurs fielded an unchanged eleven, but Conte did have the benefit of both Reguilon and Sessegnon on the bench. Villa had Danny Ings back in their side, playing beside Ollie Watkins and supported by Philippe Coutinho. On the back of three consecutive defeats and desperate for a win and a performance in front of their fans, Villa were so keen that some of their challenges were tough and uncompromising, leading to the early substitution of Doherty, replaced by Reguilon, who was soon writhing under a Danny Ings tackle.
Spurs kicked off playing towards The Holte End and soon had Villa on the back foot when Kulusevski got to the bye-line and tried to find Kane with a pass which was cleared by the Villa defence. Spurs had an early lead after a Dier ball forward and an attempt by Kane which was blocked. The ball ran to “Sonny” who scored from the edge of the box with a left foot shot that hit the net just inside Martinez’s right post.
Villa started the tough stuff and Doherty was clattered and needed lengthy treatment. Villa’s one-eyed fans accused us of cheating more than once, presumably for feigning injury. Doherty was down again and probably never recovered. Spurs win was also achieved on the back of some superb first half saves by our captain Hugo Lloris, making his 409th club appearance and still on top of his game at 35 years of age. His first save came from a blistering shot from just outside the area by right back Matty Cash. Hugo could only parry this shot, but his defence managed to clear.
Spurs countered with Kane on the ball. Shots by both Doherty and Hojbjerg were blocked. Hugo’s second big save was with his right hand, diving to keep out Jacob Ramsey’s shot from inside the area on the left. Another save was required after a shot from outside the area by McGinn. This one was a left-handed save as he dived to his right.
Matt Doherty was replaced by Reguilon after 20 minutes. He was soon writhing and hobbled a little when he got up after Ings’ tackle brought the Villa man a booking. Of course, Villa fans insisted we were “cheating cockneys”.
Villa had a free kick after 26 minutes and this was lifted over the wall by Coutinho, but Danny Ings’ shot was held by Hugo. Hojbjerg was booked for fouling Coutinho after Spurs put themselves under pressure playing out. Douglas Luiz’s kick was held by Lloris. Watkins headed over from close range after Coutinho’s cross lifted from the left. After a Villa corner and a cross from the right Danny Ings’ shot passed wide. Spurs were very much on the back foot and under considerable Villa pressure. I felt that neither Hojbjerg nor Bentancur were getting a foot on the ball in this half.
We did manage another break when Kane fed the ball to Reguilon to his left. “Reggie” cut the ball back and we did win a corner after touches by Mings and the Villa keeper. However, Lloris soon had another save to make from Cash, whose right foot volley was saved at his left post. We came under more pressure after Kulusevski was deemed to have fouled deep on the right. Coutinho whipped in a free kick and Lloris batted this away from a position very close to his line. Once again, the defence cleared. Spurs needed a half-time pep talk from their coach, whilst you felt that Villa could not do any more than they had in their first half.
Spurs were slow coming out for the second half. That talk must have been quite long! It definitely worked though as Spurs soon won a corner on the right through Emerson’ efforts. The corner was taken by Son and Hojbjerg had a shot blocked. We soon doubled our lead through a superbly taken goal by Kulusevski (his third in his short Spurs career so far). I understand that Conte had wanted Hugo to play short, but he hit a long ball which was flicked on by Kane, reaching Kulusevski who ran towards the left of the area. Thinking quickly, he hit an excellent shot through Mings’ legs and past Martinez into the net inside his left post. It was a great goal and led to scenes in the Spurs end around me with people falling down the aisles in their joy.
Three minutes later Kulusevski broke forward and passed forward for Son but he just overhit the ball, allowing Martinez to pick up.
Villa had a couple of corners from the left, taken by Digne. Ultimately a shot by Ings curled over the target. Reguilon hit a long crossfield pass to Emerson, who in turn fed the ball to Kane. His shot was blocked, and Spurs had another corner. It wasn’t long before we went 3-0 up. Romero hit a long ball from the back and there was another Kane-Son combination for the record books (40 now) as Kane’s headed pass sent “Sonny” away and he made no mistake with another left-footed shot.
It was 4-0 within five minutes. The goal started from the back with excellent defensive work and forward play by Emerson and Kulusevski. It was a great team goal as we advanced down the right flank with Kane and Son getting involved. Son fed the ball finally to Kulusevski who got to the bye-line inside the area on the right before cutting back to Son who this time scored with his right foot. It was “Sonny”’s 17th league goal of the season, already matching his return of last season. Son stands second behind Salah in the Premier League scorers’ table before today’s games. This was Son’s second league hat-trick. The last came in last year’s 5-2 win over Southampton when he scored 4 goals. Son also scored an FA Cup hat-trick against Millwall in March 2017 and now has 87 Premier League goals to his name.
Villa fans started to leave. Digne was replaced by 36-year-old Ashley Young who soon got a yellow card for a very late tackle on Kane, who needed treatment. (He was cheating in Villa’s eyes). Both Son and Kulusevski went off to great acclaim and were replaced by Lucas Moura and Bergwijn, respectively.
It was really a case of seeing out the rest of the game with Romero winning applause for some classy defence play (and had his name chanted). Hugo held a tricky cross by Young and Villa substitute Bailey hit a shot over the target. Bergwijn and Lucas also got involved in a couple of Spurs attacks, but the game had been very well won.
Conte has been grateful for the current one game a week programme, allowing more preparation time. We start next weekend’s games with the early kick-off at home to Brighton when we will hopefully assert ourselves and the claim on fourth place further.
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