Tottenham Hotspur faced a stiff test from a surprising Aston Villa side in their first match of the Premier League season today at Spurs’ home stadium. Despite leaking an early goal to the Villains and going the opening 72 minutes without scoring, Spurs got a goal from Tanguy Ndombele on his debut and a brace from Harry Kane, and Tottenham rolled to a solid 3-1 win.
The big, and probably only, surprise of Tottenham’s lineup was Jan Vertonghen’s exclusion from the matchday 18. Early reports suggested a minor injury, but others said that he was just not preferred by Pochettino. So who knows? The rest of the lineup was what we predicted in our preview article — a midfield diamond with Kane and Lucas leading the line. Ndombele started in the middle of the diamond beside Moussa Sissoko, with Harry Winks at the base and Erik Lamela at the 10.
KICK-OFF! Spurs keeping a lot of possession in the early minutes at home against the promoted side.
10’ - Goal Aston Villa. John McGinn on a play from the back. Danny fell down to clear the shot. Thumped longball took a lucky bounce and Villa capitalized. Just a really fortunate play.
15’ - Despite the goal, Spurs really dominating this match. Midfield looks good.
17’ - Penalty shout after Kane goes down in the box, but the referee declines to make the call. Crowd was howling.
21’ - Important block from Toby on Trezeguet to prevent another shot on target. This Villa team is... pretty good, actually.
27’ - Danny Rose is having a weird game. Getting forward a lot, putting in crosses, but also letting Villa in behind him almost at will.
30’ - Another threatening moment for Villa. Trezeguet and Grealish lead a counter-attack, but Grealish’s shot is low, weak, and right at Hugo.
34’ - Kane with his first shot of the match, and it’s a rocket, but it flies over the bar.
42’ - What a defensive play by Winksy! Villa would’ve been through on goal on a counter but Harry dives in and sweeps the ball away from Trezeguet. Great stuff!
45’ - SO CLOSE SPURS! Ndombele with a gorgeous chipped ball which finds Harry Kane’s head. Harry was onside, but his header can’t find the target.
45+1’ - KANE CLOSE AGAIN! Harry puts a low ball on a counter just wide of the post, but Sian Massey-Ellis has him flagged for offside regardless. It’s August.
HALFTIME - Spurs with most of the ball in the half, but few shots and chances. Villa look dangerous in the counter-attack. Something needs to change at halftime to stretch Villa’s defense some more.
No changes for Spurs at the intermission. COYS!
46’ - Spurs going right at goal from the opening kick. There appears to be a renewed sense of urgency at play.
49’ - Sissoko with a terrible miss in the penalty box. Had a wide open look and decided to pass it across the face of goal to nobody rather than shoot it.
52’ - VAR check after Sanchez tackles a Villa player in the box. No call from the official, VAR does not overturn the no-call on the field.
55’ - Harry Kane with another shot attempt, but blocked out for a corner by Mings. Kane’s gonna get one of these, I’m sure of it.
61’ - Another VAR check, this time for a kick on KWP by John McGinn. No compelling, clear, obvious reason to overturn the call on the field, which was a free kick. Play on.
64’ - Substitution for Tottenham as Harry Winks comes off, and Christian Eriksen replaces him.
65’ - Another shot by Kane, another block from Tyrone Mings, who has been very good. Kane with 5 shots so far.
67’ - Ugh, a golden opportunity for Spurs wasted. Tom Heaton was off his line and with the goal gaping, Lamela’s shot was weak and easily blocked away. He strikes that hard, this match is level. Eriksen goes close in the ensuing play, but he shanks it wide.
73’ - GOAL TOTTENHAM! IT’S TANGUY NDOMBELE ON HIS PREMIER LEGUE DEBUT! Spurs nearly score but for some great keeper work, but Lucas does well to find Ndombele at the end of the box. The new boy side-foots it into the net and Spurs are level!
76’ - Spurs have more goals in them, and the crowd is in riotous mood as we enter the final quarter hour.
78’ - WHOA. Eriksen with a rocket of a free kick from the edge of the box, but Heaton makes a diving stop.
81’ - Appeals for a handball in the box after Toby has a shot collected by Heaton. There’s a VAR check... and it’s not given, despite it clearly hitting his hand and deflecting. Unreal.
86’ - GOAL TOTTENHAM!!! IT’S HARRY KAAAAAAAAAAANE! A great tackle from Erik Lamela and a riccocheted through ball finds the feet of Kane, who spins and fires past Heaton! 2-1!
87’ - Sub for Spurs as Lamela comes off for Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.
90+1’ - GOAL TOTTENHAM!!! It’s Kane again! Moussa Sissoko, after being trash the entire match, plays a great pass to Kane in transition. Kane takes a touch and slots it past Heaton. A vintage Kane goal, and Spurs lead 3-1.
90+1’ - Ndombele makes way for Spurs’ final sub, and it’s Oliver Skipp who comes on. What a game for Tanguy!
90+3’ - McGinn nearly pulls one back for Villa, but his shot goes wide right.
FULL TIME! - Tottenham Hotspur got three second half goals including a brace from Kane and they roll to a 3-1 win over a well organized Aston Villa team. Three points in the bag, and without five players. That bodes well.
- Yes, they left it late, but this was a solid performance start to finish from Spurs. Despite not getting many first half chances they kept the ball and really worked the midfield. The goals were all well taken after Spurs started turning the screws in attack. This was a good win.
- Aston Villa are pretty good, y’all. They were well-structured, played well, did everything right. This looks like a team that’s going to give a lot of clubs trouble and this may be viewed as a good win in a few months.
- Tanguy Ndombele — my god. He was excellent today, and these are early days. His vision and passing were phenomenal, and his goal was very well taken. He’s going to be amazing.
- Also very good: Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks, who were among Spurs’ best performers on the day. KWP in particular looked very good going forward. A couple of defensive miscues, but I thought he was among the best on the pitch.
- Moussa Sissoko and Erik Lamela had shockers today, particularly Sissoko whose passing and decision-making were atrocious. Both redeemed themselves late — Lamela with a through-ball that ricocheted around for Kane’s first goal, and Sissoko played a very nice pass to set up Kane for his second. But lordy, Sissoko was not great on balance.
- A very weird game from Danny Rose. Some real scary moments, but then he also shithoused his way to a few good free kicks. Mixed bag, imo.
- Harry Kane looks as good as I’ve seen him at the start of any season ever. It’s amazing what an offseason of rest will do. He’s going to kill it this season.
- This win came without Son, Foyth, Vertonghen, Lo Celso, and Dele. Now imagine this team with all of them. I’m salivating.