Aston Villa 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur. Aston Villa’s transformation from relegation strugglers to European contenders continued with victory over Tottenham, whose hopes of securing a Champions League place ended at Villa Park.
Jacob Ramsey’s tidy eighth-minute finish was followed by Douglas Luiz’s free-kick to earn Unai Emery’s side a sixth successive home win.
Spurs, who have been in the top four for the majority of the season, were flat and uninspiring, although Harry Kane did score a consolation from the penalty spot after he was fouled by goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Tottenham failed to register a single attempt on goal in the first half as Villa completed the double over their opponents for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
Villa, who were 19th in the table after losing four of their first five Premier League games of the season, are seventh, level on 57 points with sixth-placed Spurs, who can finish no higher than fifth.
Villa have taken 45 points out of 69 since Spaniard Emery officially took charge on 1 November, when the club was one point above the relegation zone after Steven Gerrard’s sacking.
Aston Villa trailed Tottenham by 14 points in the Premier League table as recently as 11 March, but their revival under Emery has been nothing short of remarkable.
Their 14th win in 23 Premier League games under the former Arsenal boss was thoroughly deserved although it was not until Luiz’s lovely 72nd-minute finish from a free-kick that Villa could relax.
Villa, whose final two games are away to Liverpool and at home to Brighton, have not played in Europe since going out in the play-off round to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League in 2010.
Under Emery, they have given themselves a great chance of returning to the continent after another assured performance in front of their own fans.
Martinez produced a fine save to deny Kane a second-half equaliser before he was beaten by the Tottenham captain from the spot.
Even that, however, failed to dampen the full-time celebrations as Villa took a huge stride towards qualifying for Europe.
Apart from Kane’s attempt after Douglas Luiz was pressurised by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Spurs offered very little in terms of a threat before the England captain’s consolation from the penalty spot.
Son Heung-min was frustrated by the offside flag, including deep into stoppage time when the South Korea forward thought he had equalised, while Richarlison managed just nine touches before he was substituted.
On a day of few positives for Tottenham, substitute Yves Bissouma at least offered a midfield presence on his first appearance since 5 February.
Spurs, however, were disappointing and will finish outside the top four for the third time in four seasons – despite occupying a Champions League spot as recently as the first week of April.
With no Champions League football to look forward to, will Kane be around when the next permanent manager is appointed?
Kane has 12 months left on his contract at the end of the season, but questions will continue to be asked about his future after a chaotic season on and off the pitch at Tottenham.
source – BBC