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Goals in either half from Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado helped Tottenham Hotspur complete a 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
Townsend, who starred in England's final two FIFA World Cup qualifiers, continued his rich vein of form, scoring the first after 31 minutes when his expert delivTownsend, who starred in England's final two FIFA World Cup qualifiers, continued his rich vein of form, scoring the first after 31 minutes when his expert delivery found its way past Brad Guzan. Soldado then made sure of the three points nine minutes after the hour mark to take the north Londoners up to fifth place in the Barclays Premier League standings.
Villa's only change from the 0-0 draw with Hull City last Saturday saw Nathan Baker replace Ciaran Clark in defence, while top goalscorer Christian Benteke started on the bench after overcoming a hip injury sustained in September.
For the visitors, Vlad Chiriches made his Premier League debut with Sandro given a first league start since January after recovering from a knee injury. Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas was also able to name Aaron Lennon on the bench, having made just one appearance for the club this season following a foot problem.
After a low-key opening 15 minutes, it was Spurs who threatened first, with Sandro testing Guzan from long range after Soldado appeared to handle the ball. Ashley Westwood then went close for Villa, with his teasing delivery forcing a good save from Hugo Lloris amid a crowded penalty area.
Andreas Weimann almost took advantage of careless play in the Tottenham back line when he fired over after 26 minutes before Townsend edged the visitors ahead shortly after the half-hour mark. The winger whipped in a cross from the right and, while Soldado almost got a touch on it, the initial delivery found its way past Guzan as Villa conceded at home in the league for a 15th consecutive game.
Weimann came close to equalising when he curled a Westwood lay-off just past Lloris's left-hand post five minutes before the break, although it was Townsend who had the last chance of the half. The in-form wide man's fierce drive forced a strong right-handed save from Guzan moments before the half-time whistle.
Paulinho saw an effort saved by Guzan four minutes into the second half, although both sides struggled to fashion openings, with Villa opting to bring on Benteke after an hour. It almost paid dividends when the Belgium international headed Leandro Bacuna's cross marginally over the bar three minutes later.
However, the visitors doubled their lead courtesy of Soldado's third League goal for the club. The Spaniard took a Paulinho through-ball perfectly in his stride before calmly dinking it over Guzan to make it 2-0 after 69 minutes.
Townsend continued to threaten without further reward as Spurs extended their unbeaten run against Aston Villa to 11 matches in all competitions.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "I didn't think there was too much in the game. The first half was pretty tight. In the second half we started well and looked as if we might get the goal as well with Christian [Benteke]'s header. If that was a goal, we were on top at the time.
"You never feel comfortable in the technical area, but we had been playing well and with confidence. You can't fault our lads for their effort and on another day we might have got something.
"Since the start of the season there has been progress. If we play like that we'll win more games than not."
Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas: "It was difficult in the first few minutes. Villa kept putting in long balls behind us, stretching us and we needed to get our act together. We did and in the 20th minute we got hold of the ball and started creating.
"The second half was really, really good and after it was 2-0 we could have scored more. The second goal is always important away from home. It takes pressure off and gave us a little bit more confidence. That was the moment we needed to secure the result.
"After a setback, particularly at home, we had to respond in good fashion to keep ourselves in touch with the top. This was the result we deserved."
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