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Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2009

Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham

By Julian Shea

Jermaine Jenas celebrates his opening goal for Spurs
Jenas struck for Tottenham after just five minutes

Goals right at the start of each half helped Tottenham to an unlikely but hard-fought victory at Aston Villa.

Jermaine Jenas gave Spurs an early lead with a diving header after Brad Friedel parried Aaron Lennon's cross but Villa went on to dominate the first half.

Darren Bent made sure Robbie Keane's goalbound shot crossed the line after the restart, again set up by Lennon.

Substitute John Carew's late header from a James Milner cross gave Villa hope but Spurs held on for victory.

Tottenham began brightly, with Jenas quickest to react when Friedel pushed out Lennon's pass from the right wing, but their early breakthrough just ushered in a period of total domination by Villa.

The visitors' defence took a pummelling as Villa went all out in attack, with Ashley Young their tormentor-in-chief.

Didier Zokora had no answer to Young's pace on the left wing and was fighting such a losing battle that he had already been booked before he was released from his torment and replaced by Vedran Corluka after just half an hour.

606: DEBATE
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Stilyan Petrov flashed a long-range shot just over and Emile Heskey put the ball in the side netting as Villa hammered their opponents, but despite their dominance, a combination of poor final balls and impressive defending by Jonathan Woodgate restricted them to few clear chances.

Villa's cavalier approach also left them open to the counter attack, and Tottenham had a couple of chances to add to their lead.

Only a timely touch by Nigel Reo-Coker prevented Bent having a decent crack at goal, and Keane cut a frustrated figure when Luka Modric tried his luck from an angle, rather than pass to the striker who was unmarked in box.

'Superb' Spurs delight Redknapp

A hugely entertaining first-half ended with Villa's best chance to that point - Gareth Barry volleyed a delightful pass in from the left wing and Heskey climbed above the challenge of Ledley King to rattle the bar with a powerful header.

The second half started just like the first - with a Spurs goal set up by Lennon.

His pass from the right put in Keane, whose shot across the goalmouth was probably going to creep in at the far post anyway, but Bent slid in to make sure it went over the line.

Villa seemed shell-shocked to find themselves further behind but the introduction of attacker Carew in place of defender Zat Knight showed manager Martin O'Neill was determined to try and fight his way back into the game.

Friedel had to be at his best to prevent Keane extending Spurs's lead with a full-stretch save after he shot from outside the box.

O'Neill disappointed with second-half display

As the minutes ticked by and their side failed to make inroads on Tottenham's lead, the frustration of the Villa fans was plain to hear.

With five minutes to go, Carew got above Woodgate to head home Milner's cross, raising hope of a late Villa revival, but ultimately they were made to pay for failing to make the most of their first-half dominance.


Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:

"The first goal knocked us back a bit but it looked like we would get a goal, and coming into the dressing room at half-time there was plenty of confidence.

"The second goal was a major setback, we were trying to chase the game and we became ragged and lost composure for next 10-20 minutes, and Tottenham took advantage.

"I felt we would always break them down and a goal was always on the cards, some moments it might not go in for you, but if you can get a few options together it might go for you. We shouldn't have let the setbacks kills us off.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp:

"We're beginning to realise what it takes to win - hard work - and we're doing it now.

"We had one bad patch in the season but its turned now, and we deserve any luck we get.

"We've got Chelsea next week which will be tough, but we've got 35 points now, we're gradually getting ourselves up the table where we want to be."


Aston Villa: Friedel, Reo-Coker, Cuellar, Knight (Carew 60), Luke Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor (Delfouneso 79), Heskey (Gardner 82). Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Davies, Shorey.

Booked: Reo-Coker.

Goals: Carew 85.

Tottenham: Gomes, Zokora (Corluka 35), King, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Jenas, Palacios, Modric (O'Hara 82), Bent, Keane. Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bentley, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson.

Booked: Zokora, Keane, Modric.

Goals: Jenas 5, Bent 50.

Att: 41,205

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Tottenham's Aaron Lennon 8.06 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Booing Villa fans anger O'Neill
15 Mar 09 |  Aston Villa
Premier League as it happened
15 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
15 Mar 09 |  Football


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