Tottenham eased the pressure on under-fire manager Jose Mourinho with a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa that moved them into the top six.
Carlos Vinicius grabbed his first Premier League goal just prior to the half hour as the visitors snatched the advantage in a first period where neither side offered much in terms of entertainment. Harry Kane then made sure of the points when he won and converted a 68th minute penalty to net his 27th goal of the season.
Mourinho made several changes following their humbling Europa League exit on Thursday and his players responded by digging out an important win that edges them up to sixth place, just three points behind Chelsea in fourth.
Villa once again lacked inspiration without their injured talisman, Jack Grealish, and failed to have a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. The hosts improved that stat after the interval but didn’t do enough to truly test Hugo Lloris.
The result means Dean Smith’s men drop to 10th, seven points off Spurs with a game in hand.
Next up, Tottenham visit struggling Newcastle on Easter Sunday. Villa entertain Fulham a day earlier.
TALKING POINT - Jose swats away negativity to leave Spurs well placed for a final push
There’s no doubt Mourinho needed this result. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ would have been bristling from some of the media comments in the last few days following his team’s chastening capitulation against Dinamo Zagreb. He will feel his players gave the perfect response to head into the international break on a more positive note, but the purists who want more adventurous football won’t exactly have been won over by the manner of the win. There’s still so much for Tottenham to play for though. Next month they have the League Cup final (April 25) as well as a realistic chance of fighting for a top-four berth. It could still end as a very solid season, but you sense any slip-up will just give his doubters more ammunition.
'Collective soul' needed from Tottenham players - Mourinho
As for Villa, they have won just once in seven PL games and are sorely missing Grealish. Smith suggested he should be fine following the international break and his return can’t come soon enough as they clearly lack a goal threat. It’s been a fine campaign for the Villans, but they will need to find another gear in the weeks ahead if they are to keep their Euro dream from fading badly.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lucas Moura
An impressive showing from the Brazilian. It was his industry, quality and unselfish play that created the all-important opening goal. Lively when his team-mates started slowly and never stopped running throughout the victory.
Tottenham Hotspur's Spanish defender Sergio Reguilon (L) congratulates Tottenham Hotspur's Brazilian striker Carlos Vinicius Alves Morais after scoring the first goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotsp
29’ - GOAL! – Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham. Vinicius taps home after brilliant play from Lucas Moura, who seizes upon a poor clearance from the keeper, plays a one-two with Kane and lays it across for his fellow Brazilian to touch into an empty net.
48’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Kane bends a 25-yard shot just past the far post after collecting a smart pass from Lucas on the left.
60’ – ASTON VILLA CHANCES! Trezeguet sees a shot hacked away by Rodon after good play down the left from Sanson. Spurs struggle to completely clear and McGinn finally tests Lloris with a shot from outside the area.
68’ - GOAL! – Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham. Kane makes no mistake as he sends Martinez the wrong way with a clinical spot kick. The penalty was awarded after Cash naively slid in to trip Kane close to the left byline.
84’ – ASTON VILLA CHANCE! Japhet Tanganga makes a fine, sliding block to deny Barkley after the midfielder took a cross form the left and looked all set to reduce the arrears.
Vinicius has scored nine goals in nine starts for Spurs in all competitions, with these strikes coming from 12 shots on target.
Villa failed to have a single shot in the opening 45 minutes against Spurs; the first time they have failed to register an attempt in the first half of any home league game since April 2014 against Southampton.
Kane has been directly involved in 30 goals in the Premier League this season (17 goals, 13 assists), while only Robert Lewandowski (41) has scored or assisted more across the top five European leagues in 2020-21.