John McGinn

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Smith wants ‘competitive’ Aston Villa following loss in PL return

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Despite a 3-1 loss, Aston Villa fought tooth and nail in their return to the Premier League against Tottenham, and manager Dean Smith wasted no time in affirming that that’s the integrity he expects from his team this season.

“We want to be competitive in this league,” Smith told the BBC following the match. “Next week we’ll be walking out at Villa Park – but we’ll be doing so with zero points and that’s something we have to work on.

“The better team won on the day in the second half,” he added. “We were perhaps unfortunate with the goals. Their physicality shone through in the end.”

Up only nine minutes in following John McGinn‘s left-footed strike, Villa defended their lead for more than 60 minutes in front of a vociferous Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, remaining narrow and compact in the back. Summer signing Tom Heaton, who had three saves throughout the 90 minutes, was heavily applauded and cheered by Villa’s traveling faithful for his superlative saves. Tyrone Mings and Björn Engles set a positive tone defensively.

“The first half performance and our defensive organization was very good,” Smith admitted. “They’re not Champions League finalists for nothing – they have a very well coached group of players. We’re always learning lessons, today’s game has set a standard for us.”

At the end, Villa’s defensive solidity and dangerous counter-attacks – powered by McGinn and captain Jack Grealish – weren’t enough to offset one of the league’s best in Harry Kane. Tottenham’s striker recorded a brace in the final minutes to spoil any chances of Villa walking out with points, adding to Tanguy Ndombele‘s memorable debut goal.

The newly-promoted side left North London empty-handed, yes, but with a good lesson learned. And while on the field, they made sure to send a clear message: earning three points against them will not come easy.

Spurs turn it up late to beat cagey Aston Villa

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Harry Kane‘s here for August again

A notorious slow starter earlier in his career, Spurs’ superstar scored an 86th minute match-winning goal and an 89th minute insurance marker as Tottenham Hotspur came back to beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Kane reacts | 3 things ]

Tanguy Ndombele‘s gorgeous welcome to the Premier League gave Spurs its second half equalizer after John McGinn had put Aston Villa ahead early, and Dean Smith’s Villans were content to pack the back against the heavily-favored Spurs.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Four things we learned

1. Harry Kane had been known to struggle in August in terms of putting goals on the board before a last season, being blanked in August from 2013-17 before scoring twice last season. A pair of wayward chances by the hour mark had many thinking the demons may have returned to North London. A player of his quality, however, is always going to be near the score sheet, and he found his deserved winner late before lashing an insurance strike past Tom Heaton.

2. Tanguy Ndombele can strike a soccer ball really, really, really hard.

3. Christian Eriksen is still plenty valuable and changed this game off the bench. Giovani Lo Celso has a hard act to follow once he’s ready for his Spurs debut.

4. Aston Villa is going to be a problem for clubs hoping to pick up points against the promoted new boys, and goalkeeper Tom Heaton is the right man for their job.

Man of the Match


Lucas Moura was denied by Tom Heaton in an early bid to take the lead, and Erik Lamela presided over a dangerous eighth minute free kick that zipped over the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

That’s when things went sideways for Spurs, with McGinn racing behind the back line and cooking Danny Rose before slotting past Hugo Lloris for a 1-0 advantage.

Trezeguet then had a good chance to make it 2-0, cutting past a defender but seeing his left-footed shot sent away from Toby Alderweireld.

Villa then set up in a squished Christmas tree at the back, 4-5-1, and Spurs all had sorts of problems finding a way to the back. Harry Kane headed over just before halftime, then missed a breakaway shot toward the far post.

Villa lost track of Moussa Sissoko inside of five first-half minutes, and the French midfielder comically missed the frame.

Kane had a 55th minute lash blocked out for a corner, and Spurs looked ready to fire home an equalizer. Ndombele lashed a wild shot wide in the 58th.

Ndombele was the man to get the job done, taking a lay-off from about eight yards outside the 18 and lashing it past a flying Heaton. An incredible hit.

Heaton then made an incredible save on a Christian Eriksen free kick, as the Danish sub’s presence changed the game.

VAR took a look at a handball with 10 minutes to play but controversially did not award a penalty to Spurs.

That’s when Kane made it work for the hosts, emerging from traffic to beat Heaton 1v1 and cause a collective exhale in the lilywhite part of North London.

Kane then tore into a shot on the edge of stoppage time to complete his brace.

Mings springs McGinn to give Villa stunning lead at Spurs

Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images
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The early moments of Spurs’ Premier League season opening match against Aston Villa were as predicted, but the returning Birmingham giants quickly went off-script.

John McGinn scored inside of 10 minutes to give Aston Villa a surprise lead over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

[ STREAM: Spurs-Villa on NBC Sports Live ]

McGinn raced behind the back line to collect a gorgeous ball from Tyrone Mings.

The diminutive Scot then cooked Danny Rose before slotting past Hugo Lloris to produce a 1-0 advantage to the visitors and a hushed crowd for the hosts at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Aston Villa wins Premier League promotion

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  • Villa back in Premier League for first time since 2015-16
  • El Ghazi involved in both Villa goals
  • Marriott strikes late for Frank Lampard‘s Rams

Prince William and Jimmy Dugan — er, Tom Hanks — rejoice: Your club is back in the top flight.

Anwar El Ghazi was the star of the show as Aston Villa clinched Premier League promotion with a 2-1 defeat of Derby County in the Championship Playoff Final at Wembley Stadium on Monday.

Al-Ghazi scored and helped produce John McGinn’s insurance goal, and Derby’s Jack Marriott got a deserved goal late to close the gap.

[ MORE: Spurs “so positive” on Kane health ]

Villa got its first half goal from Al-Ghazi when he stooped to head a Mohamed Elmohamady cross into the goal.

And it was Al-Ghazi’s drive and shot from distance which was blocked into the air. Rams goalkeeper Kelle Roos timed his leap poorly in reaction, allowing McGinn to fire in front to head the ball out of his hands and into the goal.

At that point it felt like more of the same, as Villa beat Derby 4-0 and 3-0 during the season.

Derby picked up its intensity later, and Marriott turned and hit a pretty strike that skittered just wide of the far post. He’d later bundle a ball over the line to set up a grandstand finish.

WATCH: Aston Villa’s McGinn hits the volley of his dreams

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Witness one of the best reactions in all of sports: The “I’m not sure how I did that and I don’t have the ego to pretend I do” face.

Aston Villa’s Scottish midfielder lashed an absolutely splendid side volley home with his left foot on Saturday, giving the Midlands side an equalizer with a shot that spun like a Roberto Carlos throwback.

[ MORE: Wolves draw at Man United ]

The nine-times capped Scotland man, 23, arrived from Hibs this summer and this was quite a hello to the Championship’s score sheet (He does have a pair of assists).

As JPW points out below, the technique and patience used in waiting for the headed clearance to fall to him so far out from goal is wonderful stuff. Goal of the season stuff, though there’s still plenty of season to come.

In “Gangs of New York,” Walter McGinn had 40-some notches on his stick. Make it one for John McGinn at Villa.