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Rafa's boxing clever!

Posted on 27 December 2010  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp described Rafael van der Vaart as 'fantastic' after another double from the Dutch star saw us home with 10 men at Villa on Boxing Day.

Rafa's boxing clever!

Harry Redknapp described Rafael van der Vaart as 'fantastic' after another double from the Dutch star saw us home with 10 men at Villa on Boxing Day.

Rafa hit both goals in the 2-1 win at Villa Park, taking his tally to 10 goals in 15 games for us in all competitions and eight in 12 in the Premier League.

That includes four goals in two games against Villa after he struck twice in the 2-1 win at the Lane back in October.

Back in the team after a month out with a hamstring injury, Rafa provided precision finishes to two fine moves at Villa.

The first came after 23 minutes when Luka Modric swept a magnificent pass wide to Alan Hutton, whose low cross was tucked into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

The key second goal arrived after 67 minutes and was started and finished by Rafa, who set Gareth Bale away on a break on the edge of our area before finally taking a pass from Aaron Lennon in Villa's box and planting his shot beyond Brad Friedel.

Of course, that wasn't the whole story as Rafa played up front on his own for 45 minutes after losing strike partner Jermain Defoe to a red card midway through the first half. Rafa was eventually replaced by Peter Crouch with 15 minutes remaining.

"He can certainly score goals and his goalscoring record is amazing," said Harry.

"He did that in Germany, I think he scored 20 goals there (for Hamburg) in a season and he's capable of getting 15, 20 goals a year, because he's such a fantastic finisher.

"He's also got that awareness to find space and arrive in the box and he's always in the right place. He also knows how to finish when he gets there. His all-round game is fantastic.

"It was his first game back. I felt an hour even with 11 men was the maximum we could get out of him but I took a gamble and probably left him on for 10 minutes more than I was going to.

"But you know when he gets hold of the ball he's going to keep it for you.

"I eventually took him off, Crouchy came on and every single ball was like a magnet to his head. He went back with (James) Collins and did a great job defensively for us."