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Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa: Spurs 'unstoppable when confident' says Nuno after much-needed win

By Phil DawkesBBC Sport
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scores for Tottenham against Aston Villa
Hojbjerg scored a timely first goal of the season to give Tottenham a much-needed league win

Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo said his players are "unstoppable" when they are confident after seeing them return to form in a much-needed Premier League victory over Aston Villa.

Humbled at north London rivals Arsenal in the last of three straight league losses ahead of Sunday's game, Spurs overcame a ropey start to produce a display that was far from perfect but at least showcased a greater defensive organisation and attacking edge.

Son Heung-min was typically bright, providing two assists, Lucas Moura looked sharp and Harry Kane -fresh from his 20-minute hat-trick against Mura on Thursday - was more involved in the final third than of late.

Their goals came from the unlikely sources of a coolly-taken finish from midfielder Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg and an own goal from Matt Targett, who stabbed the ball home under pressure from Moura just four minutes after Oli Watkins had levelled for Villa in the second half.

"We are aware we have been through a tough moment," Nuno told Sky Sports. "When the players gel and combine they can do very well. We have to find the balance between the defensive and attacking part of the game.

"All the players did well, we have talented players and when they are confident, they are unstoppable."

Spurs had numerous opportunities to put the game to bed but failed to convert, the most notable being an Emiliano Martinez save to deny Kane his first league goal of the season.

The England striker has now failed to score in his last six Premier League appearances, which is his longest scoreless streak in the competition since failing to net in his first six games of the 2015-16 campaign.

The win moves Nuno's side up to eighth on 12 points, two places and points better off than Villa.

"We needed a win but a well-deserved win," he added. "We did a good match against tough opponents. Important for us, the boys and the fans. We reacted well after conceding and [were] positive in a lot of ways.

"The boys did well. Villa are a very good team with the press so it was about taking risks. Our front three were always in the middle. They played well."

Nuno also thanked the home fans for their support throughout the game, saying: "The fans, the support, what they give us today is huge. It is really important and we are very thankful."

Tottenham show ability and resolve to claim big win

Nuno 'thankful' for home support as Spurs earn much-needed win

Tottenham badly needed this result, and possibly the process by which they achieved it even more.

All three of the wins with which they began the season were achieved by a 1-0 scoreline. At no point this league campaign had they overcome a setback to pick up points.

They can now tick that significant psychological milestone off the list.

They deserved it too, settling into the game after an opening 15 minutes in which both sides repeatedly gave the ball away to take control. They fashioned more chances and could have been out of sight long before Watkins sent a wave of panic around the stadium with just over 20 minutes left, courtesy of a first goal of the season from Targett's low cross.

The wounds from last Sunday's humiliation at the Emirates will still take time to heal, but performances and results like this against a fine Villa side will go a long way to silencing the growing number of critics looking to question Nuno's suitability for the manager's job and the application of some of his players.

'Outstanding Son was the difference' - Smith on Villa loss at Spurs

Villa are no mugs. They demonstrated that in last weekend's victory at Manchester United. But they can have no complaints about this loss.

At no point did they really have a grip on the game and in losing parity so soon after they battled back to earn it they also relinquished the opportunity to properly test the nerves of a still fragile home side.

"It feels like it got away from us," said Villa boss Dean Smith. "I didn't think there was too much between the teams.

"The difference was that they had the outstanding player on the pitch, which was Son. He was outstanding.

"We started both halves well. There was a 10-minute spell in the first half where we looked a bit stressed, but we covered that. Second half we looked better and stretched play a lot quicker and got our reward.

"We huffed and puffed but there wasn't much in the game. We had some good moments in the penalty box without them turning into really good chances. It just wasn't to be today."

Player of the match

Son Heung-MinSon Heung-Min

with an average of 7.55

Tottenham Hotspur

  1. Squad number7Player nameSon Heung-Min
    Average rating


  2. Squad number5Player nameHøjbjerg
    Average rating


  3. Squad number27Player nameLucas Moura
    Average rating


  4. Squad number11Player nameGil
    Average rating


  5. Squad number18Player nameLo Celso
    Average rating


  6. Squad number29Player nameSkipp
    Average rating


  7. Squad number4Player nameRomero
    Average rating


  8. Squad number1Player nameLloris
    Average rating


  9. Squad number3Player nameReguilón
    Average rating


  10. Squad number12Player nameEmerson Royal
    Average rating


  11. Squad number28Player nameNdombele
    Average rating


  12. Squad number15Player nameDier
    Average rating


  13. Squad number10Player nameKane
    Average rating


Aston Villa

  1. Squad number1Player nameMartínez
    Average rating


  2. Squad number11Player nameWatkins
    Average rating


  3. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn
    Average rating


  4. Squad number2Player nameCash
    Average rating


  5. Squad number20Player nameIngs
    Average rating


  6. Squad number4Player nameKonsa
    Average rating


  7. Squad number5Player nameMings
    Average rating


  8. Squad number10Player nameBuendía
    Average rating


  9. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz
    Average rating


  10. Squad number30Player nameHause
    Average rating


  11. Squad number41Player nameJ Ramsey
    Average rating


  12. Squad number3Player nameTargett
    Average rating


  13. Squad number35Player nameArcher
    Average rating


  14. Squad number15Player nameTraoré
    Average rating




Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lloris
  • 12Leite de Souza Junior
  • 4RomeroBooked at 68mins
  • 15Dier
  • 3Reguilón
  • 5Højbjerg
  • 29SkippBooked at 36mins
  • 27Lucas MouraSubstituted forGilat 89'minutes
  • 28NdombeleSubstituted forLo Celsoat 76'minutes
  • 7Son Heung-Min
  • 10Kane


  • 2Doherty
  • 6D Sánchez
  • 8Winks
  • 11Gil
  • 14Rodon
  • 18Lo Celso
  • 20Alli
  • 22Gollini
  • 44Scarlett

Aston Villa

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Martínez
  • 4Konsa
  • 30HauseSubstituted forTraoréat 80'minutes
  • 5Mings
  • 2Cash
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 41J RamseyBooked at 31minsSubstituted forBuendíaat 69'minutes
  • 3Targett
  • 11Watkins
  • 20IngsSubstituted forArcherat 89'minutes


  • 10Buendía
  • 12Steer
  • 15Traoré
  • 16Tuanzebe
  • 18Young
  • 19Nakamba
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 32Philogene-Bidace
  • 35Archer
Chris Kavanagh

Match Stats

Home TeamTottenhamAway TeamAston Villa
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Aston Villa 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Aston Villa 1.

  3. Post update

    Bryan Gil (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa).

  5. Post update

    Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Matt Targett.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Douglas Luiz.

  7. Post update

    Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa).

  9. Post update

    Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Emiliano Martínez.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Cameron Archer replaces Danny Ings.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Bryan Gil replaces Lucas Moura.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Cristian Romero.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur).

  14. Post update

    John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Hugo Lloris.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Tyrone Mings.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Kane.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Son Heung-Min.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

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