A Christian Benteke headed goal in the 35th minute gave Aston Villa the only goal it needed for a crucial three points in the relegation battle, defeating Tottenham Hostpur 1-0 at White Hart Lane.
Tom Cleverley's run drew attention off Benteke, allowing Leandro Bacuna to play in a brilliant cross. The Belgian did it all from there, heading into the bottom corner, off the post and in, beating Michel Vorm.
The opening 30 minutes was, all things considered, pretty even. Villa started on the front foot, pumping balls into the Tottenham box before Ciaran Clark had to exit in the 18th minute with what appeared to be a knee injury. Nathan Baker was the man on for Villa and immediately afterward, Villa had a chance when Benteke created an opening for Bacuna, who fired wide.
Spurs then had a couple of opportunities and on 27 minutes, it looked like they would go 1-0 up. Danny Rose got a shot off to Brad Guzan's left, but the Villa 'keeper made a big, kick save to keep the match level.
Six minutes later, Villa took the lead they would not relinquish.
In the immediate aftermath, Spurs had a couple chances from distance, but it was Villa who nearly went 2-0 up on the stroke of halftime. Benteke won an aerial battle and flicked it on for Gabby Abonlahor, who did well to create a chance. The Villa striker beat Chiriches but couldn't quite finish, rocketing his shot off the post.
Villa were on the front foot again coming out of the half-time interval, as Ron Vlaar sent his shot into row Z off a corner five minutes in. Spurs started to build the pressure though over the next 10 minutes and in the 62nd, Jack Grealish — who didn't have much of an impact — made way for Andi Weimann.
Seven minutes later though, it was another forced substitution for Aston Villa as Joe Cole replaced Agbonlahor.
On 76 minutes, Harry Kane had an effort from the 18 that just buzzed over in what might have been Tottenham's best shot in the second half.
But it was Villa who squandered a pair of chances in the span of a minute to put the game away for good.
Weimann was sprung free in the 84th minute but the striker was always headed away from goal and couldn't get enough power on his shot to beat Vorm.
Then a minute later, Benteke did brilliantly to play Fabian Delph in, but the midfielder took far too long to get his shot off and Vorm made a nice save.
Late in the five minutes of stoppage time, Carlos Sánchez — who was booked earlier in the half — was sent off for a second bookable offence in a challenge on Rose, who was surging through the midfield to launch a Spurs counterattack.
But time ran out on Spurs, who were second-best all day, handing Tim Sherwood bragging rights over his former employer and springing Villa six clear of the relegation places.
Thoughts from the game…
- Christian Benteke is playing really, really well. That's obvious. But so is Gabby Agbonlahor up there as his strike partner. Hopefully he's fit again for Wembley.
- We're six points clear! This is massively huge. A single win from here on out should probably be enough to see us safe. I think we're gonna do it.
- Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley were fantastic today. They're really proving their worth at the club right now and I hope the latter sticks around on a free transfer at season's end.
- Brad Guzan was big when he needed to be today. I've been harsh on him recently, but props for that.
- Spurs were not impressive. Villa were. Very much a deserved three points for the Claret and Blues.
- Tim Sherwood beat Spurs! Woo!
- Both Hull and Sunderland lost, so it's been a good day. While Leicester won, they beat WBA, who are now just one point ahead of Villa. If we're in it at this point, so are they.