Ehiogu gives Villa fast start

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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Aston Villa 1

Aston Villa joined the clutch of sides on maximum points last night after a match which was won and lost by the power of the pound.

Villa, who were reinforced to the tune of pounds 9.25m in all departments during the summer, won through a 68th-minute Ugo Ehiogu header. But it was threadbare Tottenham's weaknesses, as much as the visitors' strengths, which decided the points. While Villa were bubbling after their 3-1 opening day win over Manchester United, Tottenham appeared short of inspiration and belief.

Jurgen Klinsmann was missed, but more for his talismanic presence than his ability. Tottenham, shorn of Nick Barmby (transferred) and Darren Anderton (injured), were palsied in midfield and Klinsmann would have had no more opportunity to impress than did his replacement, Chris Armstrong.

Armstrong started well, winning an ovation from the Spurs fans for a late tackle on Mark Bosnich, the Villa goalkeeper. Bosnich knocked Klinsmann unconscious in a bad challenge at Villa Park last year, yet escaped punishment. Thus Armstrong's foul - as he stretched for a long ball - was seen as just retribution.

However, Bosnich emerged the happier, saving a late Armstrong effort with agility to ensure his team's victory. Armstrong had already "scored", smartly driving home a deep cross from the right with 10 minutes left, but it was disallowed for handball.

There were few other chances as Tottenham were reduced to pumping hopeful long balls which were comfortably dealt with by Villa's three-man central defence. Not that Villa were much more penetrating. The goal came from a well-practised set-piece, Ehiogu running on to a Mark Draper corner, and few chances were created in open play. The passing of both sides was poor but, gradually, Draper, Ian Taylor and Andy Townsend won the midfield battle and thus the game.

"I am pleased to have won, that is the most important aspect of the modern game," Brian Little, the Villa manager, said. "There are different ways to win and tonight we did so with passion and motivation."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Mabbutt, Calderwood, Edinburgh; Dumitrescu, Kerslake (McMahon, 76), Howells, Rosenthal; Armstrong, Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Scott, Thorstvedt (gk).

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Bosnich; Ehiogu, McGrath, Southgate; Charles, Taylor, Draper, Townsend, Wright; Yorke, Milosevic. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Scimeca, Spink (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Avon).