Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive 2-0 away win over Aston Villa was overshadowed as referee’s assistant David Bryan was struck with a smoking flare during the game.
Andros Townsend continued his international form with a goal in the first half, but in the celebrations, Bryan was hit by the missile thrown by the celebrating Spurs fans.
Roberto Soldado completed the win for Andre Villas-Boas’ side in the 69th minute and Spurs moved up to fifth in the Premier League with the win.
Villa were coming off the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw with Hull City last weekend and Christian Benteke returned to the match-day squad following an injury in September while Andre Villas-Boas gave Vlad Chiriches his Premier League debut for Tottenham.
It was the home side who had the first opportunity and they should have been in front within three minutes. Leandro Bacuna’s nice left-footed cross was perfect for Gabriel Agbonlahor to volley at goal from ten yards, but the former England international blazed well over to the relief of Hugo Lloris, who would have expected to pick the ball out of the net.
For Spurs, Sandro was given his first league start since January and he did well to test Brad Guzan from range, but the American goalkeeper did well to hold on to the powerful shot. Up the other end, Ashley Westwood’s inswinging free-kick was allowed to bounce all the way through, but Lloris made an important diving save to keep it out.
The away side have impressed defensively this season, with Jan Vertonghen in particular taking the plaudits but the Belgian was the man caught in possession to give Villa a great chance in the 27th minute. Andreas Weimann raced through onto the loose ball, but the Austrian rattled over on his left-foot to the relief of Tottenham’s commanding centre-back.
This proved costly as Spurs took the lead four minutes later. Townsend cut back onto his left foot and swung in a cross that just begged for a touch by Soldado, but the ball escaped everyone and nestled past Guzan into the far corner. It was a fortunate goal for Townsend, but the winger has been Tottenham’s brightest spark and deserved to open the scoring with his first Premier League goal for the club.
Villa kept coming though and nearly pulled level in the 41st minute. Ashley Westwood cut the ball back for Weimann to swipe at goal with his left foot, but the ball rifled into the side netting from the edge of the box. Up the other end, Townsend forced Guzan into a good save with a drilled shot from 20 yards as half-time approached.
The second half was dominated by Tottenham who put in a professional performance to see out the victory. Fabian Delph failed to pick up the run of Paulinho and the Spurs midfielder sent a half-volley towards goal from 20 yards but Guzan made another impressive save to keep the score at 1-0.
The constant saves were giving his side a chance to get back into it, but a bad miss from Benteke was a wasted opportunity in the 64th minute. Leandro Bacuna did well to stand up a cross for the Belgian striker, but he headed over from six yards. It was a bad miss from a forward who is usually dependable in the air, but Villa’s inability to convert chances were punished once again five minutes later.
Paulinho pulled the strings with a fantastic pass through for Soldado and the Spanish striker showed great composure to fire the ball past Guzan from a tight angle. It was a great finish and with the goal, Tottenham’s three points were in sight.
The full-time whistle signalled a deserved win for the away side, but Lambert will know his team had the chances to get something from this game.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)