Tottenham Hotspur cruised past Aston Villa 2-0 on Sunday to record their fourth English Premier League victory in succession.
Goals in the second half from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon sealed the points for Spurs, who remain unbeaten since their opening fixture of the season, and are now level on points with third-placed Everton and increasingly playing in the style desired by manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Solid in defence, tactically disciplined and, at times, breathtakingly quick in attack, Spurs were brimming with confidence in the second-half against a feeble Aston Villa side who have made their worst start to a season since 1986/87 and never looked like taking anything back to the Midlands.
Villas-Boas’ team selection caused a minor stir, France international Hugo Lloris starting in goal for Tottenham ahead of veteran Brad Friedel.
The American sat out his first Premier League match since 2004, ending a run of 310 consecutive Premier League appearances.
Tottenham started brightly at White Hart Lane, with Gareth Bale fizzing an effort just wide in the first minute before Jermain Defoe struck over the bar from 12 yards after meeting Jan Vertonghen’s cross.
Bale then angered the Villa bench when he went down under a challenge with goalkeeper Brad Guzan 30 yards from goal when there appeared to be no contact on the Welsh winger.
Jermain Defoe tested Guzan with a snapshot from 20 yards out while at the other end, Lloris had to stay alert to bravely save at Gabriel Agbonlahor’s feet when the Villa forward was put through by an incisive pass from Brett Holman.
Frenchman Lloris was less assured seven minutes after the re-start when his awful throw was intercepted, allowing Marc Albrighton to cross for Christian Benteke to head wide when he should have scored.
The visitors were deservedly punished for that miss six minutes later. Defoe superbly brought down Bale’s corner and shot towards goal, his effort heading off target before clipping Caulker’s ankle and nestling in the net.
Tottenham needed very little fortune for the goal that doubled their advantage in the 67th minute.
A neat passing move ended with the ball finding Lennon, who shifted past Joe Bennett and fired across goal into the bottom corner to score his first goal since January.
Clint Dempsey headed wide from six yards when he really should have scored a third and Bale saw a shot tipped on to the post by Guzan but by then Spurs were coasting home and conserving their energy.