A first half goal from Christian Benteke inflicted our first home defeat since last November as Aston Villa claimed all three points at the Lane on Saturday afternoon.
In a game of few real opportunities, Benteke headed home in the 35th minute for Tim Sherwood's side and, while we had plenty of possession, we were unable to create too many scoring chances, going closest when Danny Rose was denied by Brad Guzan and Harry Kane’s curling effort was just too high.
The headline team news saw Michel Vorm keep his place in goal in the absence of the injured Hugo Lloris, while there was a return to the side for Federico Fazio in defence. Kyle Walker’s injury sustained at Burnley last week meant Vlad Chiriches played at right-back. DeAndre Yedlin made his first appearance in the matchday squad as he featured among the substitutes and was to make his Spurs debut late in the game.
It was a low-key opening to the contest in terms of real goalmouth action, both sides finding moves breaking down in the final third. Apart from Jack Grealish seeing his effort blocked by Fazio, Leandro Bacuna dragging a shot well wide and Christian Eriksen volleying high and wide from 20 yards out, chances were at a premium.
We went close in the 26th minute when Nacer Chadli did well to win a corner, Andros Townsend whipped in a centre which Fazio met with a good header but sent it a yard over the crossbar. And just a minute later, we almost grabbed the lead after a good move between Harry Kane and Eriksen, he drove forwards and found Rose bursting into the left side of the area but Guzan saved his low shot with his legs.
The Villa keeper then dealt comfortably with a low Townsend drive before the visitors took the lead on 35 minutes. Villa won possession inside our half and worked the ball out wide to the right to Bacuna, who delivered an inviting cross for Benteke to glance his header into the back of the net off the far post.
There was almost an immediate response as Kane and Eriksen again linked up, the Dane finding Kane who was shaping to shoot when Carlos Sanchez nipped in to clear for a corner. The set-piece was cleared as far as Eriksen, who sent a cross to the far post which just evaded Fazio.
We stepped up the pressure late in the half, Eriksen firing wide, Rose blasting over and Kane testing Guzan with a fine drive from distance, before lovely footwork from Chadli took him to the edge of the area, only for Eriksen to smash the loose ball over the bar.
However it was Villa who nearly went into the break with a two-goal advantage as Kieran Richardson clipped the ball forward from the right-back slot and Benteke flicked on to Gabby Agbonlahor, who cut inside Eric Dier to take himself to the edge of the area. He tried a low right-foot shot which beat Vorm but struck the foot of the post and we cleared the danger.
Just five minutes into the second half and it was Villa who went close to scoring again, Agbonlahor touching a deep corner into the path of Ron Vlaar 15 yards out, but he couldn’t keep his drive down and it flew over the bar.
At the other end, Townsend skipped past Richardson’s challenge and kept the ball in on the byline, before whipping over a cross which Kane just failed to get a head on, while Rose fired goalwards from Eriksen’s pass - only for substitute Nathan Baker to divert it just past the post.
And as we again looked to increase the pressure, Kane so nearly grabbed his 20th Premier League goal of the campaign when he sent a curling effort just over the bar in the 59th minute. We added to our attacking options just after the hour mark when Roberto Soldado replaced Chadli but just couldn’t carve out anything clear cut as Villa defended their lead stoutly.
Mason almost found Soldado in the 75th minute, the loose ball falling to Kane who blasted over before we made a double change four minutes later, Erik Lamela coming on for Townsend while USA international Yedlin made his Spurs debut when he replaced Chiriches.
Chances were drying up at either end, although Villa substitute Andreas Wiemann fired at Vorm when clean through, before Fabian Delph was played through by Benteke with just our Dutch keeper to beat on the penalty spot, but his effort flicked off Vorm for a corner.
Yedlin and Soldado almost combined to get Lamela in with two minutes remaining, only for Vlaar’s tackle to deny him inside the area. There was a flurry of cards late on as the game became a little tetchy, Villa’s Carlos Sanchez seeing a second yellow and subsequent red card, but the visitors held on for the win.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Vorm, Chiriches (Yedlin 79), Dier, Fazio, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Townsend (Lamela 79), Eriksen, Chadli (Soldado 62), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Davies, Stambouli, Paulinho.
Villa (4-4-2): Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark (Baker 18), Richardson, Cleverley, Delph (c), Sanchez, Grealish (Weimann 62), Agbonlahor (Cole 70), Benteke. Substitutes (not used): Given, Okore, N’Zogbia, Lowton.
Goals: Villa – Benteke 35.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Bentaleb, Rose, Lamela; Villa – Sanchez, Benteke, Richardson.
Red card: Villa - Sanchez.
Referee: Lee Probert.