Tottenham Hotspur rebounded from their European night from hell in Zagreb with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday evening.
Carlos Vinicius finished off a pacey and neat attacking move following an ill-judged pass from Emiliano Martinez on the half-hour mark, before Harry Kane completed the scoring from the spot in the 68th minute after a relatively controversial award from Mike Dean.
Villa had the best of the first half an hour before conceding, which flipped the game on its head as Spurs grew into the game to wrestle control. It was during a more promising spell for the Villans also that Tottenham were given their penalty to see things off.
No killer instinct
Villa once again were caught in the trap of having a lot of possession and dominance, but not creating much of note.
In fact, the hosts failed to register a single shot on goal in the first half. Not shot on target, a shot on goal, at all, even in the goal’s vicinity.
That’s a home record that stretches back to a goalless draw against Southampton on April 19, 2014 under Paul Lambert.
There were flashes of hope in the second half in particular, as Anwar El Ghazi and Ross Barkley both went close, but it was a pretty tame night at the office for Tottenham captain, Hugo Lloris.
We may have seen Villa be more attacking in their dominance during the first half had it not been for the opening goal, which seemed to come out of nothing.
Emi Martinez rushed out of his area to clear the danger with an innocent looking pass to Matty Cash, but he was easily dispossessed, causing the back line to scamper back without much thought for organisation.
That’s what killed them as a quick and calm attack dispatched the Villans and they quickly looked to keep control of the game for about the next half hour thereafter.
Jack Grealish has created more than double the chances of the next best Villa man, Ollie Watkins, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that his absence is truly felt in the Villa attack. Dean Smith has confirmed that he will be starting on April 3rd against Fulham.
VAR, what is it good for?
The game was ultimately killed off with just over twenty minutes to go after Matty Cash was deemed to have tripped up Harry Kane, even as Kane leaves the ball to go out and plants his leg towards the oncoming defender to claim a spot kick.
Cash didn’t receive a yellow card and no VAR check was instigated from the booth thanks to ‘no clear and obvious error’, however, multiple replays show minimal to no contact from the defender, Kane instigate any contact that was there, and Kane holding his untouched shin. It does make you ask why a check was not instigated.
In any case, penalty or not, it would have taken more than 90 minutes for Villa to have pulled themselves level in this one it seems.
A team devoid of ideas and in serious need of their captain to return.
Villa fans will now resign themselves to the fact that their ceiling is probably that of top half and the need to revamp their midfield and attack is needed in the next window or two before they can be confident of challenging for European football.