Tottenham 0-0 Aston Villa: Spurs fail to move back into fourth after draw with Villans helps neither side

Stalemate damages both side's pursuit in race for Europe...
Tottenham v Aston Villa: Line-up & stats
Premier League results/standings

Tottenham drew 0-0 with Aston Villa at White Hart Lane in a result that damages both sides' hopes in the race for a place in the top four of the Premier League.

Spurs started the game with Ledley King returning to skipper the side after passing a late fitness test. Wilson Palacios and Luka Modric also returned after the FA Cup victory over Leeds United, with Niko Kranjcar and Jermaine Jenas on the bench and David Bentley keeping his place in the starting XI.

Villa opted for a line-up unchanged from the side that defeated Fulham in their previous match but for John Carew on the substitutes' bench.

Spurs went into the game having lost only one of their last eight league fixtures and they started the game in a manner reflecting this.

The first shot on target was produced by the hosts after a corner delivery was curled in teasingly by David Bentley, but King could only head straight into the relieved hands of Villa 'keeper Brad Friedel.

Minutes later Richard Dunne had to be alert to deny Peter Crouch after a slide rule pass from Modric and the defender timed his tackle well in the box to block an effort from the striker and deny Spurs an early lead.

Spurs looked on top with 22 minutes on the clock, especially when Villa had to make an early change to replace an injured Emile Heskey with John Carew.

The home side continued to pour forward and Huddlestone unleashed a trademark screamer at the Villa goal to find the opener but Friedel palmed the ball away and Dunne denied Modric a rebound effort as the Villans held on.

O'Neill's side have a sizeable attacking threat of their own and they finally showed it when Milner was allowed to shift the ball onto his right foot and drive at goal on the edge of the box.

Heurelho Gomes pushed the shot away but Gabriel Agbonlahor was first to the rebound and smacked a blast back at the keeper which he was again equal to.

That was to be the last real chance of the half and the game stood poised intriguingly at 0-0 when the interval arrived.

After the break and the Villans had an early chance to go in front when Agbonlahor was brought down by King for a free-kick. Downing could only curl his effort narrowly wide though from 30 yards out.

This Villa attack would set a precedent for much of the opening of the second half as it was now the visitors who looked more dangerous as frustration crept into the Spurs players' game.

Minutes after a hopeful long range shot from Huddlestone, O'Neill's side could have took the lead when a Carlos Cuellar cross was cheekily flicked towards the near post by Carew, but Gomes got down to smother the ball.

Spurs were finding it hard to break down a well-marshalled Villa backline as the half wore on, with great tackling denying their strikeforce a clean shot on goal.

Defoe looked like having a pop at goal before a great sliding tackle robbed him of the ball just on the edge of the box before a Crouch follow-up effort was deflected wide.

With the game in the last ten minutes of play, Tottenham looked the more eager of the two sides to break the deadlock.

The home crowd roared at referee Chris Foy when they thought their side had a late shout for a penalty when Defoe was tripped in the box by Cueller, but the official was not interested.

It was now a shoot on sight policy for the hosts and late chances fell to Defoe and Crouch but Villa held on to take a point in a result that helps neither side in their race for fourth spot in the league.