Spurs come back to beat Aston Villa
Rafael van der Vaart struck twice as we came from behind to beat an impressive Villa side 2-1 in the Premier League at the Lane on Saturday.
The Dutch playmaker twice latched onto Peter Crouch headers to make it four goals in six appearances since his transfer deadline day switch from Real Madrid.
Crucially, van der Vaart was there when it mattered to force an equaliser in the last few seconds of added time in the first half after Marc Albrighton opened the scoring.
And he showed another side to his game to outjump central defender Richard Dunne at the far post and power home a header.
That helped shift momentum firmly in our favour and he was there again for the winner, a carbon copy set-up to the first goal with this time Aaron Lennon crossing, Crouch knocking down and van der Vaart smashing home from close range.
Harry Redknapp went with just one change from the team that beat FC Twente in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Ledley King didn't make it, so Tom Huddlestone switched back to centre-half and Jermaine Jenas came into central midfield alongside Luka Modric.
We had the rarity of a visiting team matching our 4-4-2 system with Villa lining-up with two wingers, Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton, with Ashley Young and Emile Heskey up top.
And Gerard Houllier's men started well. Stephen Warnock dragged a decent shooting chance wide after 15 minutes and they then took the lead a minute later.
Heskey and Sebastien Bassong had a wrestling match on the right byline, Heskey came away with the ball and rolled it into the path of the sliding Albrighton, who just had that half a yard in front of Alan Hutton to steer the ball home.
That goal was the perfect scenario for the visitors, who could now sit deeper and use the pace of Young, Albrighton and Downing to counter.
They also proved a tough nut to crack defensively and the closest we came in the early stages was when Roman Pavlyuchenko's shot appeared to strike James Collins on the arm and Hutton rifled the loose ball inches wide.
We kept chipping away though. Jermaine Jenas almost played in van der Vaart, Brad Friedel spilled the Dutchman's shot just wide and the same player's shot was deflected onto the roof of the net.
At the other end, John Carew, on for injured Heskey, shot well wide and Young curled just over.
Typically, van der Vaart had the final word to change the game in the final seconds of two minutes added time.
Pavlyuchenko chipped a cross to the far post, Crouch headed back across the six-yard line and van der Vaart rose well above Dunne to power home the equaliser.
Aaron Lennon was introduced for Pavlyuchenko at half-time with van der Vaart pushed up to support Crouch.
We started well. Lennon was straight into the action, floating in a cross that Crouch headed down for van der Vaart but just as we waited for the net to bulge, Stilyan Petrov slid in and did enough to force the shot wide.
Villa were still dangerous though and Carew burst into the box only to see his cutback completely miss everyone.
Play switched from end to end as both teams went for the win. Dunne produced a goal-saving tackle to deny van der Vaart on the hour and then it was hearts in mouths time as Young's cross was missed by Carew and then Albrighton in front of goal.
Crouch was left with his head in his hands as he planted a headed chance wide from Luka Modric's corner on 70 minutes but he would soon play his part in the winning goal.
Five minutes later, Lennon floated a cross to the far post, Crouch rose well and van der Vaart controlled and hammered home from close range.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Villa and apart from a couple of minor scares, we looked more likely to add to the scoreline.
Lennon was central the the final two chances. First he brought down in full flight as he looked to burst through on goal to allow van der Vaart to drill a 25-yarder just over from the free-kick and then a typical dart into the box and cutback for Hutton, who was foiled by another last-ditch tackle by Dunne.
A great win and great week for the club.
Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Hutton, Huddlestone, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; van der Vaart (Sandro, 89), Jenas, Modric (Palacios, 77), Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko (Lennon, 46). Unused subs: Cudicini, Corluka, Kranjcar, Keane.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Albrighton (Banner, 81), Reo-Coker, Petrov (Ireland, 81), Downing; Young, Heskey (Carew, 36). Unused subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Clark, Cuellar.
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