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Spurs kept outside top three by Villa draw

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06 May 2012 17:16:57

Spurs kept outside top three by Villa draw

Ten-man Tottenham Hotspur spurned the chance to go third in the Premier League on Sunday after a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, for whom a point all but assured their top-flight survival.

Ciaran Clark gave the hosts the lead at Villa Park via a deflected first-half opener and their cause was aided further still when Spurs were reduced to 10 men when Danny Rose was sent off for a challenge on Alan Hutton.

Harry Redknapp's team soon responded, though, via Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty, yet they were unable to force a winner, meaning they remain a point adrift of North London rivals Arsenal in fourth place going into next weekend's final round of fixtures.

It leaves their Champions League prospects hanging in the balance, with fifth-placed Newcastle still just a point behind.

Chelsea, meanwhile, could yet snatch the final spot for Europe's elite competition that would normally go to the team finishing fourth if they beat Bayern Munich in this season's final.

Alex McLeish's Villa team are now three points clear of 18th-placed Bolton Wanderers and have a 17-goal advantage over the Trotters, making them virtually safe.

McLeish's line-up on Sunday included midfielder Chris Herd, one of a trio of Villa players disciplined this week after their involvement in a nightclub fracas during the early hours of Tuesday morning, which followed the club's annual awards dinner.

Despite their recent struggles, Villa began brightly, with a deflected effort from Charles N'Zogbia looping onto the roof of the net, while Adebayor threatened with a shot on the turn that flashed beyond Shay Given's right post.

A golden opportunity came Villa's way when a wayward pass from Kyle Walker, the former Villa loan player, was intercepted by Stephen Ireland, who sent Emile Heskey clean through.

But the striker's hesitation allowed Younes Kaboul the time to make a recovery tackle that referee Lee Probert deemed fair.

However, Villa's commitment was rewarded with a lucky goal 10 minutes before half-time.

N'Zogbia fed Clark 25 yards from goal and his strike took a wicked deflection off the shoulder of William Gallas and sailed beyond the reach of the wrong-footed Brad Friedel.

Tottenham, who had seen manager Redknapp overlooked for the England job in favour of Roy Hodgson earlier in the week, almost responded immediately but Gareth Bale's stinging shot was superbly tipped around the post by Shay Given.

Then, two minutes before the interval, Kaboul teed up Rafael van der Vaart on the edge of the area only for the Dutch international to see his shot curl inches past the right post.

There was a flashpoint within four minutes of the restart when Rose was dismissed for a lunge on Hutton that left the Scotland international in agony and brought a premature end to the former Spurs defender's match.

James Collins, another of the Villa players caught up in the drinking controversy, was introduced in Hutton's place, with Heskey making way for the fresh legs of Andreas Weimann.

Spurs continued to attack but Villa only had themselves to blame for the visitors' equaliser after Richard Dunne dived in unnecessarily on Sandro inside the penalty area, with Adebayor sending Given the wrong way from the resulting spot kick.

Both sides had chances to win it, with Dunne heading an N'Zogbia corner wide, while Bale turned three defenders inside-out before firing at Given, but it was Villa who were the happier with their point.


AFP

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