Red-hot Rafael earns his Spurs

02 October 2010 05:16
Rafael van der Vaart cemented his status as Tottenham's new talisman as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 at White Hart Lane.[LNB] Van der Vaart scored twice to take his tally to four goals in three appearances at White Hart Lane, his £8million signing looking more of a bargain by the day.[LNB]Not for the first time after a Champions League match this season, Spurs paid for a slow first half and Marc Albrighton's first Villa goal almost handed the visitors a half-time lead but Van der Vaart levelled deep into stoppage time before rifling home a 75th-minute winner to end Gerard Houllier's winning start as Villa boss.[LNB]It was a virtuoso performance by the transfer-deadline-day capture from Real Madrid following his Jekyll-and-Hyde display against FC Twente in midweek, demonstrating just how much he will be missed for this month's trip to Inter Milan.[LNB]Tottenham fielded a makeshift centre-back partnership today of Tom Huddlestone and Sebastien Bassong, their 10th in 12 games this injury-blighted season, after Ledley King failed a late fitness test.[LNB]Even with King available on Wednesday night, Spurs looked too open for comfort at times and today's line-up appeared even more attack-minded.[LNB]And they should have been ahead inside five minutes today when Roman Pavlyuchenko nodded over Luka Modric's left-wing cross.[LNB]But Villa began to take control of the game and, after a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals, they went ahead.[LNB]Terrible defending from Bassong saw him robbed by Emile Heskey down the right and the revitalised former England striker sprinted along the byline before crossing for Albrighton to slide home.[LNB]Spurs screamed for a penalty themselves 22 minutes in when Pavlyuchenko's shot hit the recalled Richard Dunne's hand but it was not intentional and Alan Hutton sent the follow-up into the side-netting.[LNB]Ashley Young was needlessly booked for deliberate handball and Villa suffered a second blow when lone frontman Heskey limped off to be replaced by John Carew 10 minutes before the break.[LNB]Pavlyuchenko wasted another chance to score four minutes later, hooking Gareth Bale's excellent low cross wide from six yards.[LNB]Carew and Young both fired over from 20 yards, Brad Friedel was almost caught out by Van der Vaart's skidding effort, Albrighton was cautioned for a foul on Hutton and Young sent a shot on the turn straight at Heurelho Gomes.[LNB]Van der Vaart then levelled three minutes into stoppage time when he climbed above Dunne to nod home after Peter Crouch had headed Pavlyuchenko's ball back across goal.[LNB]The Holland midfielder was moved from the right into a more central role after the restart, with Pavlyuchenko withdrawn for Aaron Lennon.[LNB]The change almost paid dividends in the 51st minute when Lennon stood a cross up for Crouch once again to nod down but Van der Vaart was somehow beaten to the ball by a desperate Stiliyan Petrov lunge.[LNB]Van der Vaart saw his next effort blocked by Dunne after being found in acres of space by Bale as Tottenham began to crank up the pressure.[LNB]But Villa remained a threat on the break and Huddlestone was looking uncomfortable up against Carew, with the striker and Albrighton both inches from connecting with Young's dangerous cross.[LNB]Crouch should have put Spurs ahead 20 minutes from time when he powered a header over the bar after Huddlestone had flicked on Modric's corner.[LNB]Moments later, Lennon forced a fine stop from Friedel with a low angled drive and, when he stood up another dangerous cross - this time with his left foot - 15 minutes from time, Spurs took the lead.[LNB]Crouch once more claimed the knockdown and this time there was no stopping Van der Vaart as he kept his cool to blast the ball past Friedel.[LNB]Harry Redknapp withdrew Modric for Wilson Palacios and Villa soon made a double change, throwing on Stephen Ireland and Barry Bannan for Petrov and Albrighton.[LNB]Dunne nodded a late corner off target and James Collins was booked for felling Lennon in full flight, only escaping a straight red by covering defenders.[LNB]Lennon was rampant and his latest cross found Hutton, whose shot was blocked before Van der Vaart was substituted to a standing ovation in the final minute, Sandro coming on to make his Premier League debut.

Source: Team_Talk