There are matches that you just want to forget, and then there are matches that make you completely re-write your pre-written match report right at the death. This was one of those matches. Tottenham took advantage of a Christian Benteke red card and came back from an early deficit to snatch three points from Aston Villa, winning 2-1 at Villa Park. Harry Kane scored late in the match on a beautiful free kick to secure the win.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado started the match up front for Spurs, while Erik Lamela and Harry Kane were on the bench. Spurs looked early like they were going to make something happen after Roberto Soldado dragged his shot wide in the opening minute, but the match quickly bogged down. While Spurs looked to have more shots and the advantage, it was Andreas Weimann who opened the scoring for Aston Villa, sliding home a nice shot off of a Christian Benteke cross. It was Villa's first goal in nearly 600 minutes of Premier League action. Benteke then had a shot deflect off the crossbar midway through the first half that might have clinched it for the Villains.
Spurs looked deflated after that and never really looked like scoring for the remainder. The first half ended 1-0.
Things got punchy in the second half. Adebayor had a half-chance from two yards out parried away by Brad Guzan's knee, and it was probably Spurs' best opportunity to equalize up to that point. Then all hell broke loose: a midfield scrum resulted in Benteke being sent off with a straight red after the ref judged that he had slapped Ryan Mason in the face. While Villa fans probably have a right to feel aggrieved about the sending off (Mason had seemingly head-butted Benteke earlier), it was a remarkably stupid thing for Tekkers to do and Villa were down to ten men.
Spurs subbed in Erik Lamela, Harry Kane, and Andros Townsend for Christian Eriksen, Adebayor, and Etienne Capoue, but even with a man advantage it didn't seem to make much difference until the 86th minute, when Nacer Chadli found himself open in the box for a cross and coolly slotted home the equalizer.
Spurs pressed their advantage after that, keeping Villa on their back heels and really making a push for goal. In the end, it was a free kick in the 90th minute that made the difference. Just outside the box, Kane curled in a beautiful shot that took a deflection off of Nathan Baker's head and past Guzan, giving Spurs the unlikeliest of wins.
- A win's a win, but Spurs did NOT play well today. They looked clueless for much of the match, lacking incisiveness in passing and fluidity in attack.
- Ryan Mason was again the engine in midfield. While Capoue struggled to another mediocre match, it was Mason who often provided the spark that led to Spurs' early chances.
- The defense struggled again. Kaboul looked off the pace, Rose had a number of derpy and hot-headed moments, especially after the red card and ensuing scrum, and Villa had numerous chances to put the game away after carving through the back line like a hot knife through butter.
- Referee Neil Swarbrick lost control of this match in the second half. There were numerous opportunities for cards, and a couple of players on both teams could've been sent off today. Villa fans should be ticked off, but ultimately the red on Benteke was fair.
- Adebayor was pretty much awful again and I'm done with him. Let him start in the cups.
- Harry Kane is a golden freaking God and if he doesn't start every EPL match from now until eternity then I'm going to riot.
- Some will probably call this an undeserved win, but it's still three points that we desperately needed. I'll take it.