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Page last updated at 19:25 GMT, Sunday, 26 December 2010

Aston Villa   1 - 2   Tottenham

Rafael van der Vaart
Van der Vaart strokes in the first of his two well-taken goals to sink the hosts

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Villa Park

Ten-man Tottenham held off Aston Villa for more than an hour and maintained their pursuit of the Premier League pace-setters as Rafael van der Vaart inspired them to an impressive victory.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp insists the north Londoners can mount a serious title challenge this season - and they added weight to his argument by surviving the first-half sending off of Jermain Defoe to demonstrate the character and quality required to secure three vital points.

Van der Vaart, back after injury, was the catalyst as he climaxed a sweeping move from the visitors involving Luka Modric and Alan Hutton to give them the lead after 23 minutes.

Defoe was shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson four minutes later after he caught Villa defender James Collins with his elbow as they challenged for a high ball, the striker vehemently protesting his innocence to no avail.

Spurs made light of their numerical disadvantage and added a second midway through the second half with a classic counter-attack, Van der Vaart starting and finishing a fine move involving Gareth Bale's storming run and Aaron Lennon's neat pass.

Redknapp delight at Spurs display

Marc Albrighton's cross drifted beyond Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes with eight minutes left to set up the prospect of a grandstand finish, but for all Villa's effort they could not snatch an unlikely equaliser.

Villa manager Gerard Houllier's youthful side showed plenty of endeavour but were desperately short on the class their opponents had at their disposal and were heavily punished as they continued the struggles the Frenchman has endured since succeeding Martin O'Neill in the Villa Park hot-seat.

Tottenham, in contrast, provided further evidence of their growing maturity and strength of squad that has enabled them to perform with such distinction domestically and in the Champions League. And the capture of Van der Vaart for a bargain £8m on deadline day looks more of a masterstroke with every passing game and every defining contribution from the Netherlands international.

Aston Villa were without Ashley Young because of a knee injury, while the visitors were able to recall Van der Vaart, out since going off early against Liverpool at White Hart Lane in November. And the Dutchman played a decisive part in a pulsating first 45 minutes that ended with Redknapp's men holding an advantage their greater composure and cutting edge just about deserved.

In a flurry of activity in the opening moments, Gomes saved well from Albrighton's deflected shot, while Villa keeper Brad Friedel rushed from his line to defy Defoe as he raced clear into the area.

PHIL McNULTY'S BLOG

The home side then had strong penalty appeals rejected as Emile Heskey clashed with Gomes in a tussle for possession, referee Atkinson ruling that the Spurs keeper had just got a touch to the loose ball before there was any contact between the pair.

Redknapp's men then believed they were the victims of injustice when Younes Kaboul turned in Hutton's pass as the referee's assistant ruled the ball had already gone out of play - but they did not have to wait long to take the lead.

Modric was the creator with a diagonal pass of the highest calibre that exposed the left side of Villa's defence and when Hutton sent in his cross Van der Vaart side-footed a precise finish low past Friedel into the bottom corner.

Spurs were still celebrating taking the lead when Defoe was sent off for making contact with Collins in an aerial tussle. Defoe clearly felt there was no intent, but referee Atkinson did not hesitate to produce the red card.

Redknapp's side did not seem adversely affected by having only 10 men and Wilson Palacios was only inches away from adding a second with a rising drive from the edge of the area, a crucial touch from Friedel going unnoticed by the officials.

Houllier was forced into a reshuffle before the interval when Heskey limped off to be replaced by Nathan Delfouneso. The Villa boss made another alteration at the start of the second half, introducing the experienced Stilyan Petrov, fit after injury, for Jonathan Hogg.

Villa deserved a point - Houllier

Once again the home side were not short of possession, but they were short of quality - a brutal reality emphasised when Spurs broke brilliantly to add a second after 67 minutes, started and finished by Van der Vaart.

He released the rampaging Bale with a neat flick and, as he drove deep into Villa territory to release Lennon, Van der Vaart arrived with perfect timing to steer low past Friedel once more with his left foot.

It was Van der Vaart's final contribution as he was replaced by Peter Crouch, with Villa replacing the tiring Fabian Delph with veteran Robert Pires.

Pires was soon in the thick of the action when he was involved in an altercation with Redknapp on the sidelines following a foul on the Frenchman.

Albrighton's fortunate goal gave Spurs some anxious moments in the closing stages, but they held on to show once more that they could be contenders for the long haul in the Premier League this season.

Live text and stats

 

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham FT
(HT 0-1)
  • Albrighton 82
  • Van der Vaart 23
  • Van der Vaart 67

Aston Villa

Substitutes

Tottenham

Substitutes

Ref: AtkinsonAtt: 39,411
ASTON VILLA
TOTTENHAM

Possession

  • Aston Villa 63%
  • Tottenham 37%

Attempts on target

  • Aston Villa 15
  • Tottenham 8

Attempts off target

  • Aston Villa 11
  • Tottenham 5

Corners

  • Aston Villa 8
  • Tottenham 4

Fouls

  • Aston Villa 13
  • Tottenham 11
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+5:23 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
  • 90:00+4:50 Marc Albrighton concedes a free kick for a foul on Jermaine Jenas. Direct free kick taken by Michael Dawson.
  • 90:00+4:18 A cross is delivered by Robert Pires, Peter Crouch manages to make a clearance.
  • 90:00+4:11 Centre by Stewart Downing, blocked by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
  • 90:00+3:16 Substitution Luka Modric goes off and Vedran Corluka comes on.
  • 90:00+2:47 Booking Heurelho Gomes goes into the book.
  • 90:00+2:13 Foul by Luka Modric on Eric Lichaj, free kick awarded. Brad Friedel takes the direct free kick. Shot from inside the six-yard box by Eric Lichaj goes wide right of the goal.
  • 90:00+2:13 Booking Booking for Luka Modric.
  • 90:00+1:11 Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • Correction - 89:47 Robert Pires fouled by Jermaine Jenas, the ref awards a free kick. James Collins takes the direct free kick.
  • 89:47 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jermaine Jenas on Robert Pires. Direct free kick taken by James Collins.
  • Correction - 89:00 Centre by Eric Lichaj.
  • 89:00 Eric Lichaj delivers the ball.
  • 87:49 Substitution Jermaine Jenas comes on in place of Aaron Lennon.
  • 87:03 Marc Albrighton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Lennon. Shot comes in from Gareth Bale from the free kick.
  • 87:03 Booking Gabriel Agbonlahor shown a yellow card.
  • 86:06 Free kick awarded for a foul by Wilson Palacios on Robert Pires. Free kick taken by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 85:47 Effort on goal by Stiliyan Petrov from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 83:39 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Marc Albrighton, save made by Heurelho Gomes. Stewart Downing takes a shot. Blocked by Wilson Palacios.
  • 83:29 Centre by Stewart Downing, Michael Dawson makes a clearance.
  • 83:18 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by Younes Kaboul. Stewart Downing takes the free kick.
  • Correction - 81:30 The assist for the goal came from Stephen Warnock.
  • Correction - 81:30 GOAL - Marc AlbrightonAston Villa 1 - 2 Tottenham Marc Albrighton finds the net with a goal from 35 yards. Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham.
  • 81:30 The ball is sent over by Marc Albrighton, assist on the goal came from Stephen Warnock.
  • 81:30 GOAL - Marc AlbrightonAston Villa 1 - 2 Tottenham Marc Albrighton grabs a goal. Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham.
  • 81:00 Gabriel Agbonlahor sends in a cross, Eric Lichaj takes a shot. Benoit Assou-Ekotto gets a block in.
  • 80:11 James Collins is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Heurelho Gomes takes the indirect free kick.
  • 79:17 Stewart Downing sends in a cross, clearance made by Alan Hutton.
  • 78:41 Alan Hutton challenges Marc Albrighton unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Stiliyan Petrov from left wing, Benoit Assou-Ekotto manages to make a clearance.
  • 78:41 Booking The referee books Alan Hutton for unsporting behaviour.
  • 76:08 Effort from the edge of the penalty box by Eric Lichaj goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 75:39 Gabriel Agbonlahor takes a shot. Heurelho Gomes makes a save. Corner taken by Marc Albrighton from the left by-line, save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 75:05 The ball is crossed by Marc Albrighton, clearance made by Michael Dawson.
  • Correction - 73:05 Stewart Downing delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, Peter Crouch makes a clearance.
  • Correction - 73:05 Substitution Peter Crouch replaces Rafael Van der Vaart.
  • Correction - 73:05 Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot. Luka Modric gets a block in. The ball is swung over by Marc Albrighton, clearance by Michael Dawson. Free kick awarded for a foul by Rafael Van der Vaart on Fabian Delph.
  • Correction - 73:05 Substitution Robert Pires replaces Fabian Delph.
  • 73:05 Stewart Downing delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, Luka Modric manages to make a clearance.
  • 73:05 Substitution Peter Crouch is brought on as a substitute for Rafael Van der Vaart.
  • 73:05 Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot. Luka Modric gets a block in. The ball is crossed by Marc Albrighton, Michael Dawson manages to make a clearance. Unfair challenge on Fabian Delph by Rafael Van der Vaart results in a free kick.
  • 73:05 Substitution Robert Pires replaces Fabian Delph.
  • 72:21 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Marc Albrighton played to the near post, Heurelho Gomes makes a clearance.
  • 72:03 The ball is crossed by Stephen Warnock, save by Heurelho Gomes. The ball is crossed by Marc Albrighton, Aaron Lennon gets a block in. A cross is delivered by Marc Albrighton, clearance made by Michael Dawson.
  • 71:11 Gabriel Agbonlahor takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 69:52 Luka Modric takes a shot. Blocked by James Collins.
  • 69:14 Aaron Lennon takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in. Rafael Van der Vaart decides to take a short corner.
  • 68:04 Eric Lichaj sends in a cross, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.
  • 66:52 The assist for the goal came from Aaron Lennon.
  • 66:52 GOAL - Rafael Van der VaartAston Villa 0 - 2 Tottenham Goal scored by Rafael Van der Vaart from just inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham.
  • 65:19 Inswinging corner taken by Luka Modric from the left by-line, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
  • 64:14 Eric Lichaj challenges Rafael Van der Vaart unfairly and gives away a free kick. Rafael Van der Vaart restarts play with the free kick.
  • 62:48 The ball is delivered by Stewart Downing, Header from deep inside the area by Carlos Cuellar goes over the bar.
  • 62:17 The ball is swung over by Nathan Delfouneso, save made by Heurelho Gomes. Stewart Downing takes a outswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Gareth Bale.
  • 60:59 Stephen Warnock sends in a cross, clearance by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
  • 59:05 The ball is crossed by Nathan Delfouneso, blocked by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Corner taken right-footed by Marc Albrighton from the right by-line to the near post, Gareth Bale makes a clearance.
  • 57:44 The ball is crossed by Stewart Downing, Header by Carlos Cuellar from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
  • 57:16 Stewart Downing takes the outswinging corner, Michael Dawson makes a clearance. The ball is delivered by Marc Albrighton, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.
  • 57:11 Marc Albrighton sends in a cross, clearance by Alan Hutton.
  • 56:08 Shot from outside the box by Rafael Van der Vaart misses to the left of the goal.
  • 55:34 Unfair challenge on Rafael Van der Vaart by Fabian Delph results in a free kick. Rafael Van der Vaart restarts play with the free kick.
  • 55:34 Booking The referee cautions Fabian Delph for unsporting behaviour.
  • Correction - 54:07 Fabian Delph produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal. Free kick awarded for a foul by Marc Albrighton on Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Free kick taken by Younes Kaboul.
  • 53:49 Fabian Delph produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target. Foul by Marc Albrighton on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, free kick awarded. Younes Kaboul restarts play with the free kick.
  • 53:32 The ball is delivered by Marc Albrighton. A cross is delivered by Stewart Downing, Wilson Palacios manages to make a clearance.
  • 51:09 Rafael Van der Vaart is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
  • 50:28 Gareth Bale sends in a cross, clearance made by James Collins.
  • 49:53 Nathan Delfouneso takes a shot. Save made by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 49:12 Wilson Palacios gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stiliyan Petrov. Fabian Delph restarts play with the free kick.
  • 48:29 A cross is delivered by Eric Lichaj, Carlos Cuellar takes a shot. Save made by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 48:23 The ball is sent over by Stephen Warnock, clearance by Younes Kaboul.
  • 47:54 Marc Albrighton takes a outswinging corner to the near post.
  • 47:44 The ball is delivered by Marc Albrighton, blocked by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
  • 46:30 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rafael Van der Vaart by James Collins. Michael Dawson takes the free kick.
  • 45:58 Stephen Warnock produces a cross, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.
  • 45:01 The second half has started.
  • 45:01 Substitution Stiliyan Petrov is brought on as a substitute for Jonathan Hogg.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+2:10 The referee calls an end to the first half.
  • 42:46 The ball is swung over by Stephen Warnock, clearance made by Michael Dawson.
  • 41:55 The ball is swung over by Aaron Lennon, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 41:38 Nathan Delfouneso challenges Alan Hutton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Michael Dawson restarts play with the free kick.
  • 40:03 Nathan Delfouneso produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 38:30 Substitution Nathan Delfouneso comes on in place of Emile Heskey.
  • 38:16 Stewart Downing has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the goal.
  • 37:31 A cross is delivered by Stewart Downing, clearance made by Michael Dawson.
  • 36:43 Stewart Downing produces a cross.
  • Correction - 36:09 Wilson Palacios has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
  • 36:09 Wilson Palacios produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.
  • 34:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Hogg on Luka Modric. Heurelho Gomes restarts play with the free kick.
  • 34:27 Booking The referee shows Jonathan Hogg a yellow card.
  • 33:04 Marc Albrighton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Direct free kick taken by Rafael Van der Vaart. Younes Kaboul takes a shot. Save made by Brad Friedel.
  • 32:14 Foul by Wilson Palacios on Jonathan Hogg, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 30:38 Stewart Downing sends in a cross, Shot by Marc Albrighton from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.
  • 30:19 Stewart Downing sends in a cross, save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 28:21 Gabriel Agbonlahor crosses the ball, Headed effort from inside the area by Emile Heskey misses to the right of the goal.
  • 26:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jermain Defoe on James Collins. Free kick taken by James Collins.
  • 26:48 Sent off Jermain Defoe sent off.
  • 26:25 Centre by Marc Albrighton, Younes Kaboul manages to make a clearance.
  • 25:48 Michael Dawson concedes a free kick for a foul on Emile Heskey. James Collins crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by Younes Kaboul.
  • 24:12 Stephen Warnock challenges Aaron Lennon unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Rafael Van der Vaart, clearance made by James Collins. Corner from the left by-line taken by Rafael Van der Vaart, save made by Brad Friedel.
  • 22:53 The assist for the goal came from Alan Hutton.
  • 22:53 GOAL - Rafael Van der VaartAston Villa 0 - 1 Tottenham Rafael Van der Vaart gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham.
  • 21:35 The ball is swung over by Aaron Lennon, Rafael Van der Vaart has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
  • 21:05 Marc Albrighton takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 20:31 The ball is crossed by Younes Kaboul, Stewart Downing makes a clearance.
  • 18:54 A cross is delivered by Fabian Delph. The ball is crossed by Stewart Downing, clearance made by Younes Kaboul.
  • 18:35 Stewart Downing delivers the ball.
  • 18:01 Stewart Downing takes a inswinging corner to the near post, save made by Heurelho Gomes. Stewart Downing crosses the ball, Younes Kaboul manages to make a clearance.
  • 17:34 Gabriel Agbonlahor takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes. Gabriel Agbonlahor takes a shot. Save made by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 14:07 Stewart Downing takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes. Gareth Bale fouled by Eric Lichaj, the ref awards a free kick. Rafael Van der Vaart delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.
  • 12:51 Marc Albrighton crosses the ball, Benoit Assou-Ekotto gets a block in. Centre by Marc Albrighton, clearance by Younes Kaboul.
  • 12:44 Stephen Warnock produces a cross, Michael Dawson makes a clearance.
  • 10:53 Floated corner taken by Rafael Van der Vaart, Luka Modric takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in.
  • 10:34 Jermain Defoe takes a shot. Blocked by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 9:54 The ball is sent over by Gareth Bale.
  • 8:28 Centre by Marc Albrighton, Heurelho Gomes makes a save.
  • 6:34 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Hogg on Rafael Van der Vaart. The ball is swung over by Rafael Van der Vaart, Header from deep inside the area by Gareth Bale goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
  • 3:46 Jermain Defoe takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
  • 2:05 Marc Albrighton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wilson Palacios. Benoit Assou-Ekotto restarts play with the free kick.
  • 1:28 Gabriel Agbonlahor has a headed effort at goal from just inside the area that misses to the right of the target.
  • 0:57 Marc Albrighton takes a shot. Save by Heurelho Gomes. Marc Albrighton takes a shot. Benoit Assou-Ekotto gets a block in.
  • 0:26 Unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by Younes Kaboul results in a free kick. Eric Lichaj restarts play with the free kick.
  • 0:00 The ref blows the whistle to start the match.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 26 Dec 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 17 22 37
2 Man City 19 12 35
3 Arsenal 17 15 32
4 Chelsea 17 19 31
5 Tottenham 18 4 30
6 Bolton 19 7 29
7 Sunderland 19 1 27
8 Stoke 18 1 24
9 Newcastle 18 -1 22
10 Liverpool 17 -1 22
11 Blackpool 16 -5 22
12 West Brom 18 -7 22
13 Blackburn 19 -7 22
14 Everton 18 -1 21
15 Aston Villa 18 -10 20
16 Wigan 18 -14 19
17 Birmingham 17 -3 18
18 Fulham 18 -6 16
19 West Ham 19 -13 16
20 Wolves 18 -13 15

see also
Boxing Day football as it happened
26 Dec 10 |  Football
Redknapp predicting 'great' year
26 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Redknapp delight at Spurs display
26 Dec 10 |  Tottenham
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 10 |  Football



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