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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 17:07 GMT
Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa
By John Sinnott

Jermain Defoe of Spurs and Olof Mellberg and Gareth Barry of Aston Villa
Defoe has scored six league goals for Spurs this season
Jermain Defoe's goalscoring instincts led Tottenham to a deserved win over Aston Villa in an entertaining game.

Villa had frustrated Spurs for nearly an hour when Dimitar Berbatov's pass released Defoe, who sidefooted home.

The impressive Berbatov also set up Defoe's second goal, the Bulgarian flicking on for the England forward, who thumped a shot past Gabor Kiraly.

Gareth Barry reduced the deficit when he bulldozed his way past the home defence before scoring with a shot.

Defoe might have had a hat-trick but Kiraly did well to save with his feet after the striker had beaten Gary Cahill with a deft piece of skill.

Both Spurs goals highlighted the ability and intelligence of their two forwards as well the weakness of their opponents' attack.

For Defoe's first goal, Berbatov turned deftly away from a couple of Villa defenders before sliding a weighted pass behind the visitors' defence.

Defoe used his first touch to create space to widen the angle for him to shoot and his finish was perfectly placed.

For Spurs' second goal, Berbatov used his height and strength to head on to Defoe, whose brilliant first touch carried the ball forward before he crashed his shot past Kiraly.

Before Spurs' two forwards took centre stage, Tom Huddlestone, who turns 20 on Thursday, had excelled for Martin Jol's team, moving them forward with a series of inventive passes, both long and short.

As well as linking the play, Huddlestone found time to conclude it, getting forward to unleash a shot that was tipped over the bar by Kiraly.

Huddlestone was responsible for the pass of the game when he dinked the ball over the Villa defence to Berbatov, whose shot was well saved by Kiraly.

The excellence of Defoe and Berbatov only served to highlight the failings of Villa's attack.

606: DEBATE
DW

Gabriel Agbonlahor, who only turned 20 in October, troubled Spurs' defence with some strong running but his partner Milan Baros was altogether more ineffective.

That Villa survived for nearly an hour owed much to Kiraly's impressive keeping as he made a series of saves to frustrate Spurs.

This was only Villa's second away defeat of the season - Martin O'Neill's side have notched up seven draws on their travels - and the manner in which they kept going after falling two goals behind said much about their tenacity.

Barry typified that dogged nature when he barged past a succession of Spurs defenders before shooting past Paul Robinson.

Although Robinson had to punch clear after Barry's goal in a nervy moment for Spurs, Villa's inability to create clear chances ensured the home side held on to win.


  • Tottenham coach Martin Jol on striker Jermain Defoe:
  • "Jermain was probably the sharpest player this season, that is why he started most of times.

    "If you have three games in six or seven days we've got the quality to change. It's better for the clubs if we have more options.

    "Today there was no other option - Mido and Robbie Keane were injured."

  • Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
  • "The keeper kicked the ball 80 yards, it was flicked on and Jermain Defoe is in on goal. It's great for Spurs but debilitating for us.

    "The squad has been a bit weak. I knew that in August and we were unable to do anything about it at that stage.

    "In January we'll try to do something to give these players a bit of help."


    Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Lee, Dawson, King, Malbranque, Zokora, Huddlestone, Ghaly (Murphy 69), Defoe (Davenport 89), Berbatov.
    Subs Not Used: Cerny, Assou-Ekotto, Ziegler.

    Booked: Malbranque.

    Goals: Defoe 58, 77.

    Aston Villa: Kiraly, Mellberg (Osbourne 46), Hughes (Ridgewell 36), Cahill, Gardner, Barry, McCann, Petrov (Bouma 46), Davis, Agbonlahor, Baros.
    Subs Not Used: Olejnik, Angel.

    Booked: McCann, Cahill.

    Goals: Barry 81.

    Att: 35,293.

    Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).



    SEE ALSO
    Huddlestone agrees new Spurs deal
    26 Dec 06 |  Tottenham Hotspur
    Boxing Day football photos
    26 Dec 06 |  Football


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