Christian Benteke scored his eighth goal in six games to hand Tim Sherwood a winning return to Tottenham and ease Aston Villa’s relegation fears.
Sherwood, who was relieved of his duties at White Hart Lane at the end of last season, has since taken the job at Villa with the task of keeping them in the Premier League and this victory will go some way to helping him achieve that goal – although Villa did see Carlos Sanchez sent off late in stoppage time.
Coincidentally, Sherwood’s last game in charge of Spurs was a 3-0 win over the Villans and he was on the winning side once more as Benteke headed home the only goal of a forgettable contest 10 minutes before half-time.
Tottenham were unable to create many chances of note, with stand-in skipper Harry Kane again quiet in attack as Ron Vlaar put in a strong defensive display.
That was in stark contrast to Tottenham’s defence, with Federico Fazio given a torrid afternoon by Benteke, fresh from a midweek hat-trick in the draw against QPR, and Sherwood was fully deserving of his comeback victory.
The win moves Villa six points clear of the relegation zone, whilst Mauricio Pochettino’s side drop to seventh as their season threatens to peter out.
Villa started the game the brighter of the two sides and Spurs goalkeeper Michel Vorm had to be sprightly off his line to prevent Gabriel Agbonlahor latching onto a raking ball forward from Tom Cleverley.
Spurs were laboured in the opening stages with Fazio and Vlad Chiriches, shifted to right-back in the absence of Kyle Walker, both looking nervous in possession.
Villa’s Leandro Bacuna had the game’s first real chance in the 19th minute but he could only slice his effort well wide having been picked out by Benteke after the forward had forced his way through several Spurs defenders.
Pochettino’s side slowly started to come to life and Fazio headed over from Andros Townsend’s corner before Danny Rose drew a save out of Brad Guzan with a low effort.
But the start came back to haunt Spurs when they fell behind courtesy of Benteke’s header as the Belgian climbed above Fazio to head Bacuna’s whipped cross in off the post, with Vorm stationary in the middle of his goal.
It could have been even better for the visitors but Agbonlahor saw his effort come back off the post after Benteke had nodded Kieran Richardson’s clearance into the path of his strike partner.
Vlaar thrashed a wild shot over as his side again started in the ascendency but it seemed to act as a wake-up call for Tottenham – with Vlaar the man on hand to turn Rose’s goalbound effort behind for a corner.
Kane was the next to come close to drawing his side level but he could only bend a shot onto the top of Guzan’s goal after turning inside Jack Grealish.
Vlaar and Andreas Weimann came close as Tottenham began to commit more men forward, with both Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela thrown on by Pochettino.
But it was their captain Fabian Delph who passed up the best chance to double Villa’s lead as he was played in on goal with five minutes remaining only to hit his shot straight at the rapidly-approaching Vorm.
There was still time for Sanchez to be sent off for the visitors as he collected a second booking for a cynical foul on Rose, but they held on to collect just their third win in 17 games and prepare for next Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool in perfect style.
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