Report: Villa 0-1 Spurs
English Barclays Premiership
Teddy Sheringham's second half volley secured a thoroughly deserved three points at Villa Park.
The skipper, back after injury, made no mistake from close range after 69 minutes to complete back-to-back Premiership wins - just the recovery Glenn Hoddle was looking for after the FA Cup defeat at Southampton.
Anything less than victory would have been a travesty after we dictated for long periods and, in the second half particularly, played some irresistable one-touch football.
Having said all that, Villa missed the best chance of the game right in the middle of our best spell when Ian Taylor fluffed his lines from six yards.
With Dean Richards also back in the line-up we looked solid defensively, Simon Davies relished the chance to link-up with Darren Anderton, Gus Poyet and Sheringham after playing down the left last time out and last week's hat-trick hero Robbie Keane buzzed around again, this time without reward.
It would be fair to say the first half never really caught fire but there were chances at either end.
Keane, bothered by a knock on the knee early on, had a shot deflected into the side-netting in the second minute but it took until the 17th minute for the first serious goalmouth action.
The lively Stefan Moore, a member of last season's FA Youth Cup winning side, tricked past Ledley King and it took a vital block from Richards to deny Dion Dublin from close range.
Moore was the provider again 10 minutes later, this time spinning away from Richards on the left flank only to find Goran Bunjevcevic back to cut out another dangerous cross.
We'd enjoyed the lion's share of possession in-between Villa's efforts but, like at Newcastle recently, failed to make the most of a few promising positions.
Dublin looped a header wide after 37 minutes before we came closest to breaking the deadlock just before the break.
First up Peter Enckelman had to be on his toes to divert Steve Carr's piledriver away after a short-corner move and somehow the ball evaded Keane on its way out.
A minute later and Richards headed against the post from Darren Anderton's corner and when the ball was played back in, Keane poked home Sheringham's knock down only to be flagged offside.
The second half started at a much livelier pace as we started to string some delightful one-touch moves together.
Villa somehow got away with it as Keane's low cross ended up in Enkelman's hands three minutes in, Keane then skipped away from two tackles only to curl straight at the keeper and Poyet fired wide after a quickfire triangle of passes with Sheringham and Davies.
Thomas Hitzlsperger relieved the pressure with a shot wide on the hour but it was only a brief respite as Poyet couldn't get a tricky ball under control to lob Enkleman after the keeper had headed away from Keane outside his box.
Keane then beat the offside trap to race onto Davies' through ball, skipped clear of Mark Delaney but poked the ball wide with Enkelman out at his feet.
Typically, after all that pressure, Villa broke to create the best chance of the game with 68 minutes on the clock.
De la Cruz showed great pace down the left, broke to the byline and cut the ball back to where Taylor should have tapped home - instead, the midfielder missed the ball completely.
A goal was coming and it arrived after 69 minutes. Another slick move found Carr in acres of space on the right and he had time to pick our Sheringham, unmarked, just eight yards out and the skipper made no mistake with his volley.
With Richards and King unmovable at the back, Villa struggled to carve out chance and, in fact, play became slightly scrappy after the goal.
Villa's last chance arrived with four minutes left as a bobbling ball fell at the feel of De la Cruz, 12 yards out to the right of the goal, but Kasey Keller was there to block with his feet.
A few scrambles led to the raising of heart beats late on, not least with memories of last season's injury time penalty, but the points went to a deserved home on the final whistle.
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2mins: First chance of game, one-two between Keane and Davies, Keane into the box, went for near post, deflected wide.
13mins: King lively to cut out dangerous Samuel cross.
15mins: Davies just failed to get on the end of Sheringham's knock down from deep Bunjevcevic cross.
17mins: CHANCE. Moore tricked past King, cross met six yards out by Dublin, vital block by Richards.
19mins: Keller dealt well with 25-yard effort from Barry that bounced awkwardly in front of him.
24mins: PENALTY? Claims waved away after Johnsen appeared to handle Sheringham's nod towards Davies.
26mins: Moore again the danger, spinning away from Richards down the left, cross deflected just wide by Bunjevcevic.
36mins: YELLOW. Delaney for foul on Bunjevcevic.
37mins: CLOSE. Dublin's looping header from Mellberg's hopeful cross drifted just wide.
44mins: SAVE. Enckelman fine reaction to save Carr's deflected piledriver and ball somehow evaded Keane on way out.
45mins: WOODWORK/GOAL DISALLOWED. Richards headed onto the post from Anderton's deep corner. Ball played back in and Keane poked Sheringham's header down home but ruled offside.
Half-time: Villa 0-0 Spurs
Half-time: SUBS. Vassell and de la Cruz on for Moore and Hendrie.
46mins: Samuel curler from 20 yards never a threat.
48mins: Lovely one-touch move involving Anderton, Davies and Poyet ended with Keane trickery and low cross towards Poyet and Sheringham that somehow ended up in Enkelman's hands.
50mins: PENALTY? Appeals for foul on Vassell by Richards waved away - appeared to win ball.
51mins: Keane away from two challenges but curler straight at Enkelman.
54mins: Decent triangle of passes again ended with Poyet dragging shot wide from 18 yards.
58mins: Lovely skill by Hilzlsperger to turn Poyet but hit shot yards wide.
60mins: YELLOW. Anderton for foul on Barry.
61mins: Enkelman out of box to head clear from Keane, ball fell to Poyet, tricky to control and didn't get enought attempted lob back.
63mins: CHANCE. Keane beat offside trap to take Davies pass, still a lot to do wide on left, flew past Delaney but poked ball wide with Enkleman out at his feet.
65mins: Another incisive move, Sheringham played ball out wide to Taricco, good cross had Davies, Poyet and Sheringham all up but header went over.
68mins: CHANCE. Best so far, de la Cruz cutback put it on a plate for Taylor but he missed the ball completely from six yards.
69mins: GOAL. And it was coming. Carr's lovely cross from the right volleyed home by unmarked Sheringham from eight yards. 1-0.
77mins: SUB. Crouch for Dublin.
80mins: SUB. Freund for Poyet.
84mins: YELLOW. Bunjevcevic for foul on de la Cruz.
85mins: SAVE. Ball broke loose to de la Cruz, right side of box, Keller there to block with his feet.
90mins: YELLOW. Keane for time-wasting.
Line-ups: Villa: Enckelman, Delaney, Mellberg, Barry, Taylor, Dublin (Crouch, 77), Hitzlsperger, Hendrie (de la Cruz, 45), Samuel, Moore (Vassell, 45), Johnsen. Subs: Postma, Crouch.
Spurs: Keller, Carr, Taricco, Richards, King, Bunjevcevic, Anderton, Davies, Poyet (Freund, 80), Sheringham, Keane. Subs: Sullivan, Perry, Iversen, Acimovic.