Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tottenham boost Champions League hopes with big win at 10-man Aston Villa

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Mar 2024

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Tottenham inflicted a chastening 4-0 home defeat on 10-man Aston Villa as Ange Postecoglou’s men emphatically won this key battle in the race for Champions League qualification.

Sunday’s crunch clash between fourth and fifth was described in the build-up by Villa skipper John McGinn as “the most important game in the club’s recent history”.

Unai Emery’s men had the chance to move eight points clear of Spurs in the final guaranteed Champions League spot, but instead the hosts’ captain saw red in an embarrassing second-half collapse.

Tottenham moved within two points of Villa with a win that started with James Maddison turning home a brilliant Pape Matar Sarr cross in the 50th minute.

Brennan Johnson scored a fantastic second three minutes later and McGinn’s rash, frustrated challenge on Destiny Udogie led to a straight red card that ended Villa hopes of a comeback.

Son Heung-min and substitute Timo Werner struck in stoppage time as Spurs secured a statement win in the Midlands, ending Villa’s run of three straight Premier League wins in this fixture.

The players emerged to smoke and pyrotechnics at Villa Park but there were no first-half fireworks to write about.

Ollie Watkins threatened to punish Spurs’ high line early on, with Micky van de Ven’s recovery pace bailing out Cristian Romero after the in-form striker burst past beyond him.

Another example of that approach saw Watkins slipped through before the offside flag saved the Villa striker’s blushes after his undercooked pass to Leon Bailey was cut out by Pedro Porro.

Guglielmo Vicario punched away a testing McGinn free-kick and Matty Cash prodded wide after a cutback was blocked, while at the other end Villa’s five-man defence was keeping Spurs’ attack quiet.

Villa went close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time from a short corner. The ball was laid back for McGinn to hit a well-struck cross and Lucas Digne’s flicked header looped narrowly wide.

Postecoglou’s men escaped that threat and came back from the break with a pep in their step, and not even Van de Ven’s early withdrawal could throw them off kilter.

The injured Tottenham defender had to be replaced by Radu Dragusin and headed down the tunnel just as his team-mates and the away end burst into celebration behind him.

Sarr hit an outstanding cross from the right that Maddison met ahead of a pair of Villa defenders to turn home in the 50th minute.

The Spurs man wheeled off to celebrate with the away end, then turned to the home fans when bringing out his darts celebration.

The visiting hordes were on their feet again three minutes later as Ezri Konsa’s poor pass to Tielemans was cut out brilliantly by Dejan Kulusevski, with Son collecting the ball and playing on to Johnson to brilliantly bend beyond Emiliano Martinez.

Emery responded by changing personnel and shape, only to be derailed by McGinn’s dismissal in the 65th minute.

The frustrated Villa skipper wiped out Udogie with a stupid tackle, leading to a clash involving both teams as referee Chris Kavanagh brandished a straight red card.

“2-0 in your cup final” bellowed the gleeful travelling fans, who saw Kulusevski try to add a third as they cruised against the 10-man hosts.

Vicario spread himself to stop substitute Nicolo Zaniolo but Tottenham were in control and struck twice more late on.

Son lashed home from Kulusevski’s pass in the 91st minute and substitute Werner completed the rout four minutes into the additional 10 as the home fans cleared out.

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