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Instant reaction: Aston Villa fall from League Cup in punchless in 0-4 loss to Spurs

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Villa were denied a clear penalty, but it likely wouldn't have made much difference in a cup loss.

Laurence Griffiths

This was never a match that Aston Villa were meant to win, but a very solid first half against Tottenham in the third round of the Capital One League Cup gave plenty of fans some false hope. A stoppage-time goal by Jermain Defoe hurt a bit, but as the teams went into the tunnel, it looked like Villa could keep things close. Sadly, the second half saw the claret and blue give up three goals, including a last-second effort by Defoe to get his brace, and Villa were knocked from the Cup in embarrassing 0-4 fashion.

As I said, Villa actually didn't look terrible in the first half. Paul Lambert ran out a lineup that included Marc Albrighton, seeing his first action in eight months. Tottenham clearly were the better club, but it was nice to see Aston Villa put in an effort where they didn't panic. It wasn't quite bunker-and-counter, but it was something close, as Villa took their lumps and waited patiently for the opportunity to strike. Unfortunately, without Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor, and Andi Weimann, when counters came it was tough to finish them off.

When it looked like the clubs would go in even, Jermain Defoe, who had been causing trouble all half, broke away from his defender and streaked un-marked into the box to receive a perfect chip pass from Lewis Holtby. Defoe then tapped the ball in with his head to make it Vlla 0-1 Tottenham:

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In the second half, Lambert took off Libor Kozak and Karim El Ahmadi (who was, I think, the person that let Defoe in the box) for Nicklas Helenius and Jordan Bowery. Helenius almost instantly made a mark on the match when he drove into the box only to have Jan Vertonghen fall on him and yank his shorts around his ankles:

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To his credit, Helenius played on, but this might have been the rare case where it wouldn't have hurt to fall to the pitch. The pull of the pants was clearly a penalty, and it wasn't called by the ref. When play continued, Villa had missed their best chance to equalise.

From here out, it was almost entirely Tottenham's match. In the 49th minute, the Spurs got a corner that went short to Paulinho, who volleyed the ball past Jed Steer. I assume most Villa fans are like me and have nightmares of set pieces by this point, yes? Then Nacer Chadli added to the pain in the 86th minute, and Jermain Defoe nabbed his brace in the dying seconds of the match. The 0-4 loss was ugly, but it's worth remembering that it came at the hands of a significantly more skilled team. Now let's hope that VIlla can clear up the injury list before Manchester City come to town on Saturday.

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