Monday 19 August 2019

'It was full throttle' - Harry Kane urges Tottenham to aim for more as his late goals see off Aston Villa

Tottenham 3 Aston Villa 1

Harry Kane celebrates scoring the team's second goal against Aston Villa (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the team's second goal against Aston Villa (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Harry Kane came to Tottenham's rescue with two late goals to see off Aston Villa last night, as Spurs were reminded of just how significant genuine home advantage can be when the chips are down.

This kind of atmosphere was missing when Pochettino's side were forced to call Wembley Stadium home for most of the last two seasons, with home advantage now very much part of the Tottenham armoury as their supporters made noise that demanded a response from their players and how they delievered.

Just 70 days have passed since Tottenham spurned a glorious chance to take advantage of a below-par Liverpool performance in the Champions League final, with the energy and zest Mauricio Pochettino's side lacked in Madrid in full evidence in this battling win.

Even after they were rocked by an early goal from Villa's John McGinn, Kane's late double ensured Spurs would start the season with a thrilling victory that suggested any hangover from that desperate end to last season has cleared.

It may have taken them longer than they would have wanted to break down a resolute Villa defence, but the power and class of a side that will have serious trophy aspirations once more this season told in the end thanks to the brilliance of Kane, who was a relieved man in his post match interview.

"The tempo of the game, we came out n the second half with a high tempo, pressed well," he stated. "When Tanguy (Ndombele) got his goal it was full throttle until the end. Thankfully a couple of chances fell to me.

"It's the first game but it's always nice to win, at home as well. We know we have the quality, we have been in big games. It's down to us players to perform on the pitch."

The pre-match talk centred on a Tottenham team-sheet that inexplicably lacked the presence of defender Jan Vertonghen or midfield kingpin Christian Eriksen, with doubts over the future of both lingering as they enter the final year of their current contracts.

Pochettino suggested Eriksen place on his substitutes bench was due to him not returning from international duty in good shape, but he last played for Denmark on mid-June and it was clear that his absence was more due to his desire to leave the club.

Reports in the English media suggested he was in 'advanced talks' with Manchester United ahead of last Thursday's transfer deadline and while those stories were quickly rebuffed, there is no doubt the midfield maestro would jump at a move to Real Madrid.

Eriksen's absence meant Harry Winks and Erik Lamela were handed the attacking midfield roles in the Spurs line-up and neither had the quality associated with Tottenham's playmaker-in-chief, who did not make an appearance until the 64th minute.

By then, the alarm bells were ringing loudly for last season's defeated Champions League finalists, with Villa tilting the course of this game in their favour after a breakaway goal from John McGinn after nine minutes.

Tottenham had piled the pressure on Villa in the opening exchanges and Lucas Moura missed a glorious chance to head his side into a lead after give minutes, yet the Spurs defence were caught off-guard as Villa broke at pace and McGinn held his nerve to slot an effort past keeper Hugo Lloris with Danny Rose failing to avert the danger at the last.

Tanguy Ndombele celebrates scoring Tottenham's first goal. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

For a Villa side that arrived at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a game plan to frustrate their illustrious opponents, the early goal gave their five men defensive line all the incentive they needed on their first day back in the Premier League.

Harry Kane missed a chance to draw his side level on the stroke of half-time and Spurs piled the pressure on at the start of the second half, but their pressure did not tell until Eriksen was introduced and finally they began to purr.

Villa's defence was rocking before their new keeper Tom Heaton pulled off a fine save to keep out Davison Sanchez's effort after 73 minutes, yet the Villa defensive line was finally breached as Ndombele marked his debut with a fizzing finish to draw the sides level.

The Tottenham celebrations were muted despite the significance of the moment, as they quickly retrieved the ball from the Villa net and went in search of a winner, with the raucous noise inside the stadium propelling Spurs towards the win they craved.

Eriksen so nearly found the second goal as his magnificent free-kick forced a flying save out of keeper Heaton and you could feel the heat being turned up by Villa with each passing minute.

Defender Danny Rose was the only Tottenham player not to have a shot on goal as the game headed into the final ten minutes, with the side that specialised in last gasp goals last season believing they had another winner minute in their grasp.

Then, when the moment called for a hero, the ball fell for Tottenham's main man in the box as he crashed home a left-footed shot that brought the wonderful atmosphere inside this stadium to a thrilling crescendo.

Kane added another cool finish in the final minute as he stroked an effort past Heaton to wrap up Tottenham's win as they warmed up for next weekend's trip to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the grand manner.

Harry Kane was Tottenham’s match-winner (John Walton/PA)

On a night when Tottenham were tested on a number of levels, they came up with all the right answers.

Now they face the ultimate test against the rampant Premier League champions.

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