EPL: Townsend inspires Tottenham to another win

The 22-year-old winger, who starred as England booked their place at the World Cup earlier this week, scored the opening goal with a 31st-minute cross that crept past Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Roberto Soldado
Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado (right) celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal with midfielder Paulinho against Aston Villa at Villa Park in the EPL yesterday. Pic/AFP

Roberto Soldado added a second after half-time as Spurs moved up to fifth place in the table, three points below leaders Arsenal, and began to atone for their shock 3-0 home defeat by West Ham United.

It was a first defeat in four league games for Paul Lambert’s Villa, who now find themselves 13th, but it was a marked improvement on their 4-0 capitulation to the same side in the League Cup last month.

Villa had last season’s top scorer Christian Benteke on the bench following a hip injury, with Nathan Baker replacing Ciaran Clark in the only change to the side that drew 0-0 at Hull City last time out.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas brought Lewis Holtby into his team in place of Christian Eriksen, awarded Vlad Chiriches his debut at centre-back, and handed Sandro a first league start since January.

Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor put a half-volley over the bar from an early Leandro Bacuna cross, but heavy rain made for a slippery surface and the game suffered as a result.

Linesman hit by flare
An assistant referee was struck by a flare thrown from the stands during the first half of the game between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs had just taken a 31st-minute lead through Andros Townsend when a canister trailing black smoke was lobbed towards the playing surface, apparently from the away supporters’ section. It hit the assistant referee, causing him to stumble forwards, but after a brief stoppage while referee Phil Dowd spoke to his colleague, the game continued. 

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