Moura 8/10, Kane 7/10 as Spurs bounce back, stay right in the top-four hunt

Tottenham Hotspur made it four wins in five Premier League games with a 2-0 win at Villa Park; makeshift strike duo Carlos Vinicius and Harry Kane both finding the net against Aston Villa.

After a poor opening half-hour from the visitors, it took a moment of class from Harry Kane and Lucas Moura, the latter crossing for compatriot Vinicius to tap into an empty net to open the scoring. To say the goal came against the run of play at that stage of the game would be an understatement, but for all their possession Villa had been unable to test Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.

Tottenham looked poor defensively and were often exposed on Aston Villa’s right-hand side. However, Villa missed the spark of the injured Jack Grealish and were unable to convert their dominance on the ball into shots on target.

There were few chances of note at either end after the break in a game devoid of any real quality, but Spurs were able to double their advantage when Harry Kane scored from the penalty spot after having been brought down by Matty Cash.

With a two-goal cushion, Jose Mourinho’s side finished the game strongly and cemented their place in the top six.

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Positives

Despite an awful opening half-hour, Spurs found themselves ahead at the break. To be ahead when playing so poorly will give them cause for optimism. Lucas Moura was a positive presence going forward, and Spurs did at least grow into the game and finish strongly.

Negatives

Tottenham are missing a settled back four and at times look very vulnerable defensively. Sergio Reguilon left space behind him on the left, which Villa exploited, while Joe Rodon and Davinson Sanchez both look nervous without Toby Alderweireld alongside them. Villa’s final ball was poor tonight, but better teams probably would have punished the visitors.

Manager rating (out of 10)

6 — Mourinho looked concerned at the way his side started the game, but the opening goal sprung them into life. In the end, though, it won’t live long in the memory in what was a comfortable night for the visitors.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris, 6 — The Frenchman will have looked on with concern at the state of his defence in the first half, though he wasn’t really tested during that spell. He had to come out to palm a cross away in the second half, but overall it was a quiet evening for the skipper.

DF Japhet Tanganga, 7 — Tanganga was the pick of the back four; he gave little away at right-back and enhanced his chances of keeping a settled place in the team. He made one great block to deny Ross Barkley late on.

DF Joe Rodon, 5 — Grew into the game after a slow start but gave the ball away cheaply at times. The Spurs defence looked all over the place in the opening 30 minutes but, looking back over the game, Rodon restricted Villa’s attacking players to just one or two shots on goal.

DF Davinson Sanchez, 5 — Seemed to lose Trezeguet more than once in the opening exchanges, though both occasions led to nothing. A rash challenge gave Aston Villa a free kick in a dangerous area, but like Rodon he also grew in confidence as the game went on.

DF Sergio Reguilon, 5 — Looked very tired and Villa’s right-sided players made a number of runs in behind him. However, he seemed liberated by the Spurs’ goal and he went on attacking runs himself, pushing Villa’s overlapping full-backs back in the process. He was later replaced after taking a knock.

MF Lucas Moura, 8 — Moura single-handedly injected pace into Tottenham’s attacking play. He enjoyed several runs with the ball from midfield and it was his one-two with Kane that enabled him to cross for Vinicius to score the opener. Villa struggled with his pace throughout; a great performance to cap his 150th appearance for the club.

MF Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 6 — Had a busy evening, mainly because those around him were guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply. He was a steady presence and he looked solid in the second half.

MF Tanguy Ndombele, 6 — Looked comfortable on the ball and accomplished when bringing it out from the back, even when in tight areas or surrounded by three or four Villa players. Played a bit too deep to make an impact in the Villa half, but always looked neat and tidy.

MF Giovani Lo Celso, 6 — Combined well with Tanganga and covered well when the defender drifted into the centre.

FW Carlos Vinicius, 5 — Had done very little and was struggling to get into the game when he was gifted with a tap-in into an empty net. In his defence, it was his pressure on Emiliano Martinez that led to the Argentine’s poor clearance to Moura.

FW Harry Kane, 7 — Looked a bit of a lost soul in the final third in the opening 30 minutes until he found space to feed Lucas Moura on the left in the build-up to the winning goal. He came close with an effort in the second half and then converted from the spot after being brought down by Matty Cash. Looked extra lively in the last half hour.

Substitutes

DF Ben Davies, 7 — Played well when he came on. He successfully shut off any access to the right that Villa had previously enjoyed, although his final ball at the other end sometimes left him down.

FW Steven Bergwijn, 6 — He had a great chance to break down the left and attack the Villa box in the dying moments, but he was muscled off the ball by Ezri Konsa.

MF Moussa Sissoko, N/R — The sub was shown how to put your body on the line by teammate Tanganga when blocking a shot. Sissoko’s efforts in comparison to his teammate were… underwhelming.

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