SATURDAY APRIL 9, 2022
ASTON VILLA 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1)
Kulusevsky, 50 years old
Turnout: – 41,949
Referee:- Graham Scott
Assistants:- Harry Lennard, Mark Scholes
Fourth Official:- Craig Pawson.
VAR:- Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR: – Lee Betts
Villa (4-3-1-2):- Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings (captain), Digne (sub Young, 80); McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho (under Buendia, 70); Ings (under Bailey, 70), Watkins
Unused submarines:- Olsen; Bedrooms ; Sanson, Traore, Nakamba, Chukwuemeka
Warned: – Ings (foul on Reguilon), Young (foul on Kane)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Captain); Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson Royal, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Doherty (under Reguilon, 21); Kulusevski (under Bergwijn, 84), Kane, Son (under Lucas Moura, 78)
Unused submarines:- Gollini; Sanchez, Rodon, Sessegnon; Winks, white
Warned:- Hojbjerg (foul on Coutinho), Emerson Royal (foul on Buendia), Kane (foul)
The dream is launched!
What a fantastic day it was for Spurs! Playing at teatime after Everton beat Manchester United and Arsenal lost at home to Brighton, Spurs won 4-0 with a hat-trick from Son and a superb goal from Kulusevski to take a three lead points in fourth place. It seems hard to believe after a few low days earlier in the season, but our Champions League dream has definitely come true! Only 6 weeks ago, after the defeat at Burnley, we were in eighth place, seven points behind fourth Manchester United, with a goal difference of minus one. Six wins in our last seven league games and 25 goals scored have seen us climb to fourth place with a goal difference of over nineteen! Antonio Conte’s name has been sung loud and clear at regular intervals, including yesterday.
Spurs fielded an unchanged XI, but Conte benefited from both Reguilon and Sessegnon on the bench. Villa had Danny Ings back at their side, playing alongside Ollie Watkins and supported by Philippe Coutinho. After three defeats in a row and desperate for a win and a performance in front of their fans, Villa were so enthusiastic that some of their challenges were tough and uncompromising, leading to the early replacement of Doherty, replaced by Reguilon, who was soon writhing. under a tackle from Danny Ings.
Spurs started playing towards The Holte End and quickly had Villa on the back foot when Kulusevski came to the boundary line and tried to find Kane with a pass which was cleared by Villa’s defence. Spurs had an early lead after a ball from Dier forward and an attempt from Kane which was blocked. The ball raced to ‘Sonny’ who scored from the edge of the box with a left-footed shot that hit the net just inside Martinez’s right post.
Villa started things off rough and Doherty was slammed and needed a long treatment. One-eyed Villa fans accused us of cheating more than once, probably for faking an injury. Doherty was down again and probably never recovered. Spurs’ victory was also secured thanks to some superb first-half saves from our captain Hugo Lloris, making his 409th club appearance and still at the top of his game at 35. His first save came from a searing shot just outside the area by right-back Matty Cash. Hugo could only parry this shot, but his defense managed to clear.
Spurs countered with Kane on the ball. Shots from Doherty and Hojbjerg were blocked. Hugo’s second big save was with his right hand, diving to prevent Jacob Ramsey’s shot from inside the area on the left. Another save was needed after a shot from outside the area by McGinn. This one was a left-handed save as he dove to his right.
Matt Doherty was replaced by Reguilon after 20 minutes. He quickly twisted and hobbled a bit when he got up after Ings’ tackle brought a booking for the Villa man. Of course Villa fans insisted that we were ‘cheating the cockneys’.
Villa had a free-kick after 26 minutes and it was lifted over the wall by Coutinho, but Danny Ings’ shot was saved by Hugo. Hojbjerg was booked for foul on Coutinho after Spurs came under pressure. Douglas Luiz’s kick was held by Lloris. Watkins headed in close after Coutinho’s cross was lifted from the left. After a corner from Villa and a cross from the right, Danny Ings’ shot misses. Spurs were very much on the back foot and under considerable pressure from Villa. I felt that neither Hojbjerg nor Bentancur put their foot on the ball in this half.
We managed another break when Kane sent the ball to Reguilon on his left. ‘Reggie’ clipped the ball and we won a corner after touches from Mings and the Villa keeper. However, Lloris soon had another save to make against Cash, whose right-footed volley was saved at his left post. We came under more pressure after Kulusevski was charged with a deep foul down the right. Coutinho whipped in a free kick and Lloris knocked it away from a position very close to his line. Once again, the defense cleared. Spurs needed a half-time pep talk from their manager when you thought Villa couldn’t do more than they did in the first half.
Spurs were slow to come out for the second half. This conversation must have been quite long! It definitely worked as Spurs quickly won a corner down the right thanks to Emerson’s effort. The corner was taken by Son and Hojbjerg saw a blocked shot. We quickly doubled our lead thanks to a superb goal from Kulusevski (his third in his short Spurs career so far). I understand Conte had wanted Hugo to play short, but he hit a long ball which was thrown by Kane, hitting Kulusevski who ran to the left of the box. Thinking quickly, he hit an excellent shot through Mings’ legs and past Martinez into the net inside his left post. It was a great goal and led to scenes in the Spurs around me with people falling down the aisles in their joy.
Three minutes later, Kulusevski came forward and passed for Son, but he just passed the ball, allowing Martinez to take over.
Villa had a few corners from the left, taken by Digne. Eventually, a shot from Ings curled over the target. Reguilon hit a long cross pass to Emerson, who in turn gave the ball to Kane. His shot was blocked and Spurs had another corner. It didn’t take long before we were up 3-0. Romero hit a long ball from behind and there was another Kane-Son combination for the record books (40 now) as Kane’s header pass returned ‘Sonny’ and he made no error with another left-footed shot.
It was 4-0 in five minutes. The goal started from the back with great defensive work and forward play from Emerson and Kulusevski. It was a great team goal as we advanced down the right flank with Kane and Son involved. Son eventually gave the ball to Kulusevski who reached the boundary line inside the box on the right before returning to Son who this time scored with his right foot. It was ‘Sonny’s’ 17th league goal this season, already equaling his return from last season. Son is second behind Salah in the Premier League goalscoring chart heading into today’s matches. It was Son’s second hat-trick in the league. The latest came in last year’s 5-2 win over Southampton when he scored 4 goals. Son also scored an FA Cup hat-trick against Millwall in March 2017 and now has 87 Premier League goals to his name.
Villa fans started to leave. Digne was replaced by Ashley Young, 36, who was promptly shown a yellow card for a very late tackle on Kane, who needed treatment. (He was cheating in Villa’s eyes). Son and Kulusevski were acclaimed and were replaced by Lucas Moura and Bergwijn respectively.
It was truly a case of seeing the rest of the game with Romero earning applause for some classy defensive play (and had his name chanted). Hugo held a tricky cross through Young and Villa substitute Bailey hit a shot over the target. Bergwijn and Lucas also got involved in a few Spurs attacks, but the game was won very well.
Conte was grateful for the current one-game-a-week schedule, allowing for more preparation time. We start next weekend’s games with the early kick-off at home to Brighton, when we hope to assert ourselves and claim fourth place.
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