Summer signing comes up trumps again for Spurs...By Richard Parry at White Hart Lane
Tottenham came from a goal behind against Aston Villa to steal all three points at White Hart Lane, as once again summer signing Rafael van der Vaart ran the show.
In what was a fiercely contested opening 45 minutes at White Hart Lane, neither side were able to a firm grasp of proceedings in the early moments.
Spurs could, and perhaps should, have taken the lead after just four minutes, but Roman Pavlyuchenko was unable to keep his header under Brad Friedel’s crossbar.
But the home faithful had their heads in their hands on seven minutes, after a late challenge from Marc Albrighton left Heurelho Gomes poleaxed onon the turf, with the Villa youngster escaping a caution from Mark Clattenburg.
And it would be the academy graduate who put his side ahead on 16 mintues.
Emile Heskey’s persistence and strength capitalised on a moment of uncertainty from Sebastien Bassong, and the striker bounded from the right-flank into the Spurs box, before playing a neat ball across the goal for Albrighton to tap home from close range.
Spurs instantly went in search of an equaliser, and for a split second it appeared that Alan Hutton had found it, after latching onto Bale’s cutback, by the Scotland international’s drilled effort only found the side netting.
Villa were then forced into a change, with Heskey, seemingly troubled by a calf injury, was replaced by John Carew. And the Norwegian was presented with his first chance, but blazed over.
But Spurs would not be denied their equaliser, and fittingly it was man of the moment Van der Vaart who netted it in first-half stoppage time.
Pavlyuchenko floated in a dangerous ball to the back post, and Peter Crouch duly returned in across goal for the unmarked Dutchman to head home from close range.
Spurs were able to maintain their growing momentum from the first-half, and went close to grabbing another goal from the same source.
Aaron Lennon, who has replaced the injured Pavlyuchenko at the interval, darted down the right-flank before, after a moment’s hesitation, delivered a lofted ball to the far post which, after a collision between Collins and Crouch, found its way to Van der Vaart, but the Dutchman as only able to tap wide.
And Crouch should have put Spurs head on 70 minutes. After Richard Dunne had conceded a corner – following more good work from Lennon – the towering England striker met forcefully to Van der Vaart’s delivery, but his header flew agonisingly over the crossbar.
But this was by no means a one-side affair, as the visitors continued to press. Carew, leading the line powerfully, held off Huddlestone before darting towards the Spurs box, and following a period of frantic defending from the home side, Spurs were able to clear.
And Van der Vaart would put his side ahead minutes later, with a cracking volley from the Dutchman. Lennon whipped in a cross which, for anyone other than Crouch, would have been too high, and once again the big man supplied the knockdown. Van der Vaart took a beautiful touch on the bounce to wrong-foot Collins, before crashing a volley past Friedel.
The match ended in typical high-tempo fashion, but it was Harry Redknapp's side who were able to hold on to victory.
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