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Tottenham Hotspur 3 Aston Villa 1 - Report and pictures

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Tottenham scored three times in the final 17 minutes as Villa’s Premier League return ended in brave defeat.

Dean Smith’s men were dreaming of victory in north London after John McGinn fired them ahead on nine minutes.

But they could not hold out, with club record £53million buy Tanguy Ndombele bringing the home side level.

Kane then scored twice late on to give Mauricio Pochettino’s men an opening day victory.

Analysis

There was no shortage of fortune about the goal which saw Kane finally put the home side in front with four minutes remaining.

But the final result, in truth, was a fair one after a dominant second half performance by last season’s Champions League runners-up.

Yet Villa, handed the toughest of starts on their top flight return, can take plenty of positives from their display, particularly in the first half when they took the lead and carried a genuine goal threat.

Several of their summer signings featured impressed, most notably Egyptian winger Trezeguet and Belgian centre-half Bjorn Engels.

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Spurs 3 Aston Villa 1: Matt Maher and Luke Hatfield analyse Premier League opener

Matches such as this will not define a season where survival is the first aim. For the first hour here, they were very competitive and head to next week’s home opener with optimism still very much alive.

Of Villa’s 12 summer signings, six were named in the starting 11, including last season’s loan stars Anwar El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings.

There were debuts for Tom Heaton in goal, Engels in defence, Trezeguet on the wing and record £22million signing Wesley up front.

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Villa’s bench included Jota, Ezri Konsa, Matt Targett and midfielder Douglas Luiz, though there was no place in the 18 for Frederic Guilbert or Marvelous Nakamba.

The visitors nearly made a calamitous start when Ahmed Elmohamdy was caught on the ball by Lucas Moura inside the opening 20 seconds, the latter advancing to the edge of the box before firing a rising shot over the bar.

That set the tone for a nervy opening few minutes from a Villa perspective with the game played almost entirely in their half.

Moura should have done better after finding acres of space in the box to meet Danny Rose’s cross instead of heading weakly at Heaton.

Then, from nowhere, Villa were ahead. Mings sent a long ball forward from deep inside his own half to find the Scot through. McGinn’s first touch was a header to bring the ball under control, before staying patient to let Danny Rose commit with the challenge and then firing low into the net, Lloris getting a touch on the shot he was unable to keep out.

Tottenham looked for a quick response and it needed the slightest of touches from Tyrone Mings to prevent Kane getting on the end of a Moura cross.

But while the hosts were still bossing possession, Villa continued to look dangerous on the break.

It needed an intervention from Tody Alderweireld to prevent Trezeguet getting a shot away after being picked out in the box by an excellent pass from McGinn.

The Egyptian international would get another opportunity when Grealish blocked a cross and then steamed into the Tottenham half. But having teed up Trezeguet with a through ball, the winger’s shot was weak and easy for Lloris.

Tottenham’s best chance of the half arrived right on the stroke of half-time, Sissoko chipping in a cross which Kane, under pressure from Elmohamady, could only head over the bar.

The hosts, just as in the first half, were quickly out of the blocks following the restart and it required a well-timed block from Engels to deny Erik Lamela the leveller.

Moussa Sissoko then really should have squared things up but left all alone at the far post, he sent a low shot out for a throw-in.

Villa continued to carry a threat and had shouts for a penalty turned down when Sanchez clumsily tangled with McGinn. The incident was reviewed by the video assistant referee and deemed not worthy of a spot-kick despite the Spurs man getting nowhere near the ball.

Tottenham were starting to up the tempo and Mings twice blocked from Kane. The centre-back was then in the right place to clear a long distance Lamela effort under the shadow of his own crossbar, after Heaton had come racing out to head clear a through ball from in front of Kane.

Eventually, the pressure told, yet only after Heaton had brilliantly denied Davison Sanchez at close range. Seconds later the ball was worked to Ndombele, whose shot took the slightest nick off the knee of Mings on its way past Heaton.

The Villa keeper would then keep his team level with another fine save, this time from a Christian Eriksen free-kick which looked destined for the corner before he tipped it round the post.

Spurs 3 Aston Villa 1: Travelling fans buoyed by spirited return to Premier League

There was nothing Heaton could do about the winner, which contained more than an element of fortune. Grealish took too much time on the ball and was robbed by Lamela, whose shot took two deflections before falling to Kane, who could not miss from eight yards out.

The England international then sealed the victory with his second in the 90th minute, as Villa ran out of steam.

Key Moments

9 GOAL John McGinn stuns the Tottenham crowd by firing Villa in front. The Scot races on to Tyrone Mings long pass and then shows great composure, allowing defender Danny Rose to commit, before firing low past Hugo Lloris.

73 GOAL Tanguy Ndombele levels for Tottenha, curling home a shot from the edge of the box after Tom Heaton brilliantly denies Davison Sanchez at close range.

86 GOAL Harry Kane wins it for Tottenham. Jack Grealish is robbed on the edge of his own box by Erik Lamela, whose shot bounces off Mings and Engels to perfectly setting up Kane to finish.

Teams

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose, Sissoko, Ndombele, Winks (Eriksen 64), Lamela, Kane, Moura Subs not used: Wanyama, Nkoudou, Dier, Eriksen, Aurier, Skipp, Gazzaniga (gk).

Villa (4-3-3): Heaton, Elmohamady, Engels, Mings, Taylor, McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish (c), Trezeguet (Jota 59), Wesley (Kodjia 74), El Ghazi Subs not used: Konsa, Targett, Luiz, Lansbury, Steer (gk).

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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