The lineup surprised some but the spectacle of the Premier League did not.
Aston Villa are back in the top tier and faced a tough challenge of Tottenham Hotspur opening their new stadium.
Team news...— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 10, 2019
Four #AVFC debuts at Spurs today, as Heaton, Engels, Trezeguet and Wesley all start.#PL pic.twitter.com/wf7b36YW7g
The match started on a rough not. Elmohamady got caught holding onto the ball too long and Spurs went right on the attack. Thankfully the shot wasn’t on target but it was a quick reminder of the new challenge of the year.
Tom Heaton was called into action minutes after the Elmo mistake when Mings lost Lucas in the box and a Rose cross was perfectly place for Lucas to head it. Thankfully (again) there wasn’t much power on it and Heaton easily grabbed it.
It was all Spurs.
Until it wasn’t.
mcginn!!!!! #avfc pic.twitter.com/sI4uE07G9v— 한국빌라팬 (@KoreaAVFC) August 10, 2019
As you can see. it was Mings long ball — Wesley drew all the attention — and John McGinn never stopped running until the ball was in the net. It was a total sucker punch and it was beautiful.
After the goal it was Spurs the more aggressive team again. Villa did not sit back though — every time they got the ball the attack was sprung. But as much as Spurs they did not force Tom Heaton into another save over the first 20 minutes. It was Villa again with the next chance as some good defending lead to a blocked Trezeguet shot. He should have scored but it was also good defending.
Around the half an hour mark Villa were the team on top for a period. Spurs still had the ball — but offered nothing. Villa had a free kick in a good area that Hourihane wasted — and a great counter attack lead by Jack Grealish but Trezeguet couldn’t find the ball well enough to beat the keeper.
Spurs continued to hold the ball through the rest of the first half. But they seemed to run out of ideas against a compact Villa defense. The seemed to target Villa’s left as the one way through — but Tom Heaton remained unchallenged (besdies the Lucas header in the opening minutes.)
After the break — Spurs were right back on the attack. Moussa Sissoko should have made it 1-1 five minutes into the second half. He had all the space in the world and pulled it wide... really wide.... like it rolled out for a throw.
McGinn found himself in the box again and had a shout for a penalty. He collided with Sanchez, no call, no VAR. Probably the correct decision. Though McGinn should have had a free kick outside the box for having his shirt pulled.
But decide for yourself.
hmm... #avfc pic.twitter.com/YpNhoiFJfg— 한국빌라팬 (@KoreaAVFC) August 10, 2019
Engels and Mings look the beginning of a fine partnership.; Both defenders were ready to stop attacks on multiple occasions.
Jota came on just short of the hour mark for Trezeguet. Spurs countered with Christian Eriksen.
Tom Heaton created a nervous moment coming out of his box to head a ball. He didn’t get enough on it and it fell to a Spurs player. Thankfully Lamela kept the ball low and Mings easily stopped the shot.
Grealish added to worries in the 70’ with a bad giveaway in his own end. That is the kind of thing that can be punished in the Premier League. He ended up blocking the shot on the Spurs attack. A corner came from it — it was cleared but on the ensuing attack it was record signing Ndombele who tied the match up. It can after a wonderful save from Tom Heaton. And Mings very nearly blocked it. But Spurs leveled it with the fans at their back.
A beautiful save by Tom Heaton overshadowed by TANGUY NDOMBELE's DEBUT EQUALIZER— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 10, 2019
Watch the ending of this match on NBC or stream here: https://t.co/ZOqxDLS4Sm pic.twitter.com/gWBeXsX0Yx
Tom Heaton saved free kick just minutes later. It could have easily been 2-1. The keeper may be a steal of a transfer.
heaton #avfc pic.twitter.com/yLCDUFKiS5— 한국빌라팬 (@KoreaAVFC) August 10, 2019
Luiz entered the match with 10 mins to go for an exhausted Hourihane. Spurs continued to push — one way traffic. Mings must have had a dozen blocks.
But the defensive dam could not hold out forever. It was Jack again caught in possession. Then it was an unlucky deflection that fell right to Harry Kane. And that is a man you don’t want a ball to fall to in the box. He made no mistake putting the Spurs in the lead.
Harry Kane gives Tottenham the lead! pic.twitter.com/WzEmF1B3cc— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 10, 2019
The second goal seemed to deflate Villa and inspire Spurs. Kane gave Spurs their third goal down the stretch. Quality finish.
In the end — the final whistle blew and it was 3-1 to the hosts.
Concluding thoughts — Engels and Mings are a good pair. Heaton is a solid keeper. This is the Premier League against a Champion’s League side opening a new stadium. Wesley will get better with more game time. The midfield was good — but Jack has to be careful not to hold on to the ball too long. Two of his turnovers lead to two goals.
Onward and upward. Up the Villa!