Sunday 25 August 2019

Kane's brace sinks top-flight new boys

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Aston Villa

Harry Kane of Spurs celebrates his first goal. Photo: Getty
Harry Kane of Spurs celebrates his first goal. Photo: Getty

Paul MacInnes

Tottenham came from behind to seal an exciting win against Premier League new boys Aston Villa, Harry Kane deciding the contest with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

Villa led for much of the match after John McGinn had stolen past a sleepy Spurs defence to finish superbly in the ninth minute. Spurs turned up in the second half, however, with an equally impressive strike from their new boy Tanguy Ndombele levelling matters before Kane sealed the three points in typically unerring fashion.

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There was a sense of expectation around the new White Hart Lane. With a warm-up video re-edited to include goals from last year's run to the Champions League final, Spurs fans roared their team on to the pitch. They were ready to see their team show they were best placed to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City.

Intrigue was also in the air, however. Aston Villa arrived in good voice and off the back not only of promotion, but a record-breaking spending spree. There were four new signings in the visitors' starting XI - in positions all the way up the team - and a couple of converted loan signings too. How would Villa set up as a team, and could they play like one?

It didn't take long to get an answer. Spurs carved out the first opportunities of the match within the opening moments, both falling to Lucas Moura and both unconverted. The first the Brazilian made for himself just seconds into the game, robbing a ponderous Ahmed Elmohamady and charging towards the box from the left before fizzing his shot well over Tom Heaton's goal. The second came in the fifth minute when Danny Rose found Moura unmarked on the penalty spot but the forward - who signed a contract extension at Spurs this week - bounced his header into the ground and Heaton had his first save in Villa colours.

One-way traffic against the new boys then? Not so, and within nine minutes of the start Villa had the lead. It was a goal that was as decisive as it was simple. Tyrone Mings played the first part, launching a pass from just outside his own area all the way downfield to McGinn. Not the most towering of individuals, the midfielder still won his header to get the ball under control 30 yards out. From there he was off towards goal with Rose the only defender in pursuit. McGinn got into the box, threw a shoulder to send Rose sliding and tucked a cool finish past Hugo Lloris.

Aston Villa's John McGinn scores. Photo: Getty
Aston Villa's John McGinn scores. Photo: Getty

Villa had an opportunity to double their lead just after the half-hour with another quick transition, this time Jack Grealish blocking an Erik Lamela cross before dashing all the way upfield and playing in winger Trézéguet. In a similar position to McGinn the Egyptian lacked the same poise and his tame shot was claimed easily by Lloris.

Spurs, for their part, had one other first-half chance, a Kane header that was over the bar from close range after a decent set-up from their own new boy, Ndombele. But if anything, the hosts were the ones playing like they didn't really know each other.

Mauricio Pochettino got his hooks into his team and they came out for the second half at a higher tempo. But the course of the match only changed with the introduction of Christian Eriksen just past the hour. The Dane may yet leave Tottenham for the continent this summer but, supported by Ndombele and Sissoko, he was freed to find space and Spurs started to tick.

The pressure on Villa rose and eventually the hosts earned their breakthrough. It started from one of a succession of corners, which Mings cleared before Eriksen hooked the ball back in and Sissoko saw a volley excellently saved by Heaton. Kane recovered the rebound and hooked it back to Lucas, who teed up Ndombele to finish superbly from range.

Trezeguet of Aston Villa (R) challenges for the ball with Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Getty
Trezeguet of Aston Villa (R) challenges for the ball with Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Getty

There was then no letting-up from the home side. With five minutes remaining Jack Grealish was robbed on the edge of his box and Kane poked home. Shortly afterwards, Kane was set free in the box after a quick transition and he needed no second invitation to fire home.

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