Premier League - Van der Vaart double downs Villa

Sat, 02 Oct 16:56:00 2010

Rafael van der Vaart was again the star man for Tottenham Hotspur as his brace sealed a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League.

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Highlights: Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa

Marc Albrighton opened the scoring with his first Villa goal after 16 minutes, before Van der Vaart equalised in first-half stoppage time. The Dutchman then scored the winner with 15 minutes remaining to send Spurs above Villa and up to fifth in the table.

With Tottenham still without several centre-backs through injury and Ledley King rested after playing in midweek, midfielder Tom Huddlestone dropped back into the heart of the Spurs defence.

However, it was his central defensive partner Sebastien Bassong who was partly culpable for the first goal, as he was out-muscled by Emile Heskey on the right, and the in-form forward fired a ball from the byline across the face of goal that Albrighton turned in at the far post, just reward for the England U21 international's impressive run of form for Villa this season. That goal means that Spurs have not kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening day draw with Manchester City.

With Huddlestone back in defence and Wilson Palacios again left on the bench, the midfield trio of Jermaine Jenas, Luka Modric and Van der Vaart struggled to cope with Villa's greater height and strength early on, and Villa controlled proceedings leading up to the opening goal, although Pavlyuchenko did send a header over the bar after five minutes.

Heskey was replaced by John Carew on 35 minutes after picking up a knock, and it was Spurs who ended the half the stronger.

Pavlyuchenko steered a near-post shot across the face of goal before Van der Vaart forced a save from Friedel with an effort from distance.

Van der Vaart was instrumental is Spurs' Champions League win over Twente on Wednesday, and he continued to look excellent value for his 8 million deadline-day transfer when he drew his side level just before the break. Pavlyuchenko's ball to the far post was head back across goal by Peter Crouch, and Van der Vaart headed home from close range for his third goal in six matches for Tottenham.

Pavlyuchenko was replaced by Aaron Lennon at half-time, and the England winger helped Spurs get off to a dominant start after the break.

Van der Vaart was denied inside the box by a challenge from Stiliyan Petrov, before Richard Dunne was forced to do the same on the hour mark.

An exciting spell 20 minutes from time could have seen the match go either way, with Villa looking to soak up Spurs pressure and hit them on the break.

Ashley Young sent in a dangerous in-swinger that neither Carew nor Albrighton could get a telling touch on.

Huddlestone then flicked on a corner for Crouch, who could only send his header over the bar.

Crouch may be yet to score in the league this season, but he claimed his second assist of the match as Van der Vaart sealed his brace.

Lennon chipped a cross to Crouch, who headed down to the feet of his Dutch team-mate. Van der Vaart stayed cool and evaded a desperate sliding block from Dunne before firing a crisp finish past Friedel to seal the win.

Villa brought on Stephen Ireland and Barry Bannan in the latter stages, but their best chance was a Dunne header from a corner that went well wide of the far post, and manager Gerard Houllier suffered his sixth Premier League defeat at White Hart Lane, more than at any other ground.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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