They have been 10 days to change a career, not to mention a life and a reputation.
Andros Townsend continues his upwards trend for Tottenham
ASTON VILLA 0
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2
Townsend 31’, Soldado 68’
BIRMINGHAM // They have been 10 days to change a career, not to mention a life and a reputation. Andros Townsend’s meteoric rise gathered pace on October 11 and he has maintained the momentum ever since.
A goal at Aston Villa returned Tottenham Hotspur to winning ways and extended his golden run that has included a stunning, scoring England debut against Montenegro, a similarly impressive second game in his country’s colours as they qualified for the World Cup, an improved and extended contract at White Hart Lane and finally his first Premier League strike for Spurs.
For Andre Villas-Boas, England’s new hero was merely continuing his fine club form.
“He was excellent,” the Tottenham manager said. “He has this ability to drive forward and is always a threat.”
Yet, as Villas-Boas loaned Townsend to Queens Park Rangers last season, his subsequent surge to prominence has been both unexpected and timely, given the changing of the guard at White Hart Lane.
But if there is an irony that a club who have spent £110 million (Dh653.2m) this summer found the closest thing to a replacement to Gareth Bale, a left-footed, goalscoring winger, within their ranks and without spending a penny, there was also an importance to Townsend’s effort.
“After a setback, we had to respond and I think we did it in a good fashion,” said Villas-Boas, referring to the 3-0 loss to West Ham United two weeks earlier and the need to ensure a promising start to the season was not squandered.
Yet they had begun well without being prolific, and with goals at a premium, each one is precious.
Even when Roberto Soldado added a second, they only have eight in as many league games. Their seventh was pivotal, but also fortunate. With everything else going for Townsend, however, it was no surprise it went in.
When Soldado picked out Townsend, coming off the right flank on to his favoured left foot, his intention was to pick out a colleague. Yet with neither the stretching Soldado nor the dipping Lewis Holtby applying a touch and with Brad Guzan distracted by both, his delivery went straight in.
“I’m not going to take credit for it,” said Townsend. “It was a cross.”
What followed was unsavoury. A flare thrown from the crowd struck assistant referee Dave Bryan on the back. He was able to continue and police viewed video footage to investigate the incident.
On the field, as Spurs improved after half time, Guzan twice denied them a second goal. However, the American could do nothing when Paulinho provided a perceptive pass and Soldado a deft finish.
“He made the most of the opportunities he had,” Villas-Boas said. “This is the reason we bought him. The second goal is always important away from home.”
It came at a time when there was more focus on the other attack. A hip injury had kept Christian Benteke out for the previous three games.
Paul Lambert opted to hold his most-feared forward in reserve, but with a half-hour remaining, the Villa manager unleashed the Belgian, and inside four minutes, it could have been a goalscoring comeback. Benteke met Leandro Bacuna’s cross with a forceful header that was just too high.
“You have to try and take big moments in big games,” Lambert said.
Tottenham did. Villa did not.