Aston Villa revives European charge by beating Tottenham as Kane scores again
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz revived Aston Villa’s charge for European qualification by beating Tottenham 2-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Unai Emery’s team moved level on points with sixth-placed Tottenham with two games left in the race for Europe.
Finishing in fifth or sixth place will secure a spot in the Europa League — a competition won by Emery at Spanish sides Sevilla and Villarreal — and seventh place gets into the Europa Conference League.
Tottenham's consolation goal was scored, almost inevitably, by Harry Kane from the penalty spot in the 90th minute in a game in which Villa was superior in every way. It was Kane's 27th goal, eight behind the league top scorer, Manchester City's Erling Haaland.
Just 13 months ago at Villa Park, Spurs ran riot as Son Heung-min's hat trick inspired a 4-0 win. Saturday's display underlined their continued regression.
Villa took the lead in the eighth minute when Ramsey spread play wide to Leon Bailey and motored into the box to meet the winger's low cross ahead of Pedro Porro to find the corner of the net.
There was little reaction from Tottenham, with the away fans’ focus being on continued chanting for the exit of chairman Daniel Levy while their side remained passive.
With the lead, Villa was the more cohesive unit and Spurs’ only chance ended with a much-delayed offside flag when Son hit the post after running clear.
Tottenham drifted through the half and needed goalkeeper Fraser Forster to stop the visitors falling further behind after 32 minutes.
Porro’s error was seized on and Ollie Watkins darted into the area to cross for Bailey, only for the goalkeeper’s fine save to keep him out.
It felt like a second goal would seal the game for the hosts and Villa almost doubled the lead five minutes before the break when a diving Watkins just missed Alex Moreno’s teasing cross.
Tottenham's midfield was being cut through by Villa, and Emi Buendia hit the bar having collected a return pass from Ramsey after breezing through the middle.
Normal service continued in the second half, John McGinn slicing wide from distance and Forster denying Buendia.
Yet Spurs were presented with a glorious chance to level when Oliver Skipp robbed Luiz and the ball rolled to Kane. The England captain had time and space but shot too close to Emi Martinez from just inside the box.
It was a let-off for Villa and sparked an improvement in the visitors as Villa retreated and began to invite pressure, with Dejan Kulusevski curling wide.
Any comeback hopes were snuffed out by Luiz with 18 minutes left, though. Cristian Romero clattered into Watkins 25 meters out and all Forster — with his positioning in question — could do was help Luiz’s free kick into the top corner.
There was still time for Kane to score a penalty, after he was fouled by Martinez, following a lengthy VAR check.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press