Heung-Min Son completed his brace deep in stoppage time gave Tottenham Hotspur a 3-2 win over Pepe Reina and defiant Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
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Pepe Reina made six saves for Villa, who got goals from Bjorn Engels and a Toby Alderweireld own goal but couldn’t find a point and sit a point clear of the bottom three.
Alderweireld also scored his first Spurs goal in three years, as Spurs move into fifth place with 40 points. That’s one back of Chelsea, which plays Monday.
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Three things we learned
1. Alderweireld, Engels find redemption: It seems like this happens more often than it should, and it happened twice Sunday when defenders cost their team goals and then made amends in their non-traditional third. First Alderweireld knocked in a Villa cross after a miscommunication with Hugo Lloris, only to rocket an equalizer home. Then Bjorn Engels conceded a penalty to Spurs before nodding a header home.
Just like match days when goals are either universally hard to find or going in all over Europe, this game has a way of showing its sense of humor.
2. Bergwijn, Davies light up the left: Aston Villa’s right side of the defense was troubled by a pair of “new” faces: Ben Davies returned at left back from a long injury lay-off and Stever Bergwijn is proving to be a wonderful January transfer.
3. Reina has a day to defy the score line.: Tottenham had four or five late chances to take all three points, but got it down with their final bid after an Engels giveaway. The ex-Barcelona and Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina make six saves on the day, and was loud in organizing the backline. Most of the time, Reina bailed them out when they failed to heed his notes.
Man of the Match: Grealish was very good, drawing a half-dozen fouls and producing plenty of danger, but it’s was between Reina and Bergwijn before Son’s heroics. Of course it’s the South Korean.
The first half-dozen minutes were rough-and-tumble, with physical and cynical fouls for both sides.
Villa claimed the lead in the ninth-minute when Pepe Reina sprung Anwar El Ghazi with a long pass and Alderweireld couldn’t deal with the Dutchman’s cross.
Dele Alli had a promising bid to level the score blocked within minutes, but Villa was also pressing for a second. Douglas Luiz came close to making it 2-0 in the 19th minute, but Ben Davies got a bit of it to concede a corner instead.
Harry Winks and Steven Bergwijn led a rush down the right. The latter crossed beautifully for Dele Alli, whose flying header went wide of the far post.
Spurs midfielder Eric Dier bailed out his backline when Grealish thought he had Mbwana Samatta cued up for a point-blank shot.
Alderweireld scored a beauty off a 27th-minute corner, wheeling to lash a shot over Pepe Reina.
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Dele beat the defense but stung a shot wide of the far post near the 35th minute, and Hugo Lloris made a fine parry on El Ghazi minutes later.
Ben Davies had a fantastic first half in his first start in 2.5 months after an ankle injury, working a 1-2 en route to a double block from the Villa backline before half.
VAR gave Spurs the chance to go ahead in first-half stoppage when Bjorn Engels cut down Bergwijn in the box. Reina’s saved Son’s silly spot kick, but the South Korean bundled the rebound with an outside-of-the-boot jab.
Lloris made a fine save in the 52nd minute, but the Spurs keeper saw the ball in his goal when Engels joined Alderweireld in redemption, nodding Grealish’s corner home.
Reina stopped a low drive from Bergwijn off a bad Villa giveaway, and Bergwijn had a 70th-minute shot deflected out for a corner. Reina then stopped Dele’s break in the 74th, and a Son drive 11 minutes later.
Then he stopped Son on the ensuing corner, but the South Korean was not to be denied on the day and grabbed his second goal at the very death.