Friedel thwarts Tottenham's one-way traffic

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Aston Villa 0

Harry Redknapp must be sick of seeing his players' only reward for their aggressive attacking policy being to bring the best out of goalkeepers. The Tottenham manager has seen men such as Thomas Sorensen, Boaz Myhill, Marcus Hahnemann and Casper Ankergren raise their game to thwart Spurs' ambitions in League and cup. Brad Friedel was the latest to join that list last night, with the American producing four fine saves to prevent Spurs from going fourth, even if what he did was nothing less than display the high standards he has shown for years in England. "Brad was exceptional," said his manager, Martin O'Neill.

At home Tottenham have lost to Stoke and Wolves, and drawn with Hull – all games where they failed to score – although this result, against a side that will contest the Carling Cup final at the end of the month against Manchester United and is part of the pack hunting for the final Champions' League place, is no embarrassment.

Yet when Spurs dominate like this, they should convert their superiority into three points. When they can do that, they will be a threat to the top three teams as well.

When Friedel – "the old goalkeeper keeps going on," said O'Neill – was not involved, some fortune came to Villa's rescue. With three minutes to go Stiliyan Petrov tangled with Jermain Defoe but the referee, Chris Foy, waved play on. "I can't fault the tenacity of my side," said O'Neill. "I honestly have not seen it. Where have you heard that phrase before? But if it looks like a penalty then we've had a bit of luck. But it was probably the best defensive performance this season."

Victory for the visitors never looked likely and with Liverpool winning, going fourth was not possible for them, although Spurs knew a win would see them overhaul Rafael Benitez's side. Three times in the first 25 minutes they tested Friedel, but each time he was equal to the task, ably helped out by Richard Dunne and James Collins in front of him.

Before the interval, Friedel pushed away a shot by Peter Crouch that deflected off Dunne and twice saved from Tom Huddlestone's powerful long-range efforts, but Friedel's best save came after 40 minutes. Ledley King flicked a foot at Crouch's knock-down that saw the American dive full length to push the ball away. However, Defoe should have converted the loose ball from six yards out.

Villa's response to Tottenham's early pressure only saw them go close to scoring on two occasions. Dunne was just shy of getting on the end of a cross after 19 minutes while James Milner went closer with a long-range shot. Heurelho Gomes saved that effort and the Brazilian then kept out Gabriel Agbonlahor's follow-up.

"I thought we played well but couldn't get the break," said Redknapp. "We were the better side, like at Villa Park earlier this season. At least we make keepers work and create a few chances. As for fourth place it's all still to play for, but the squad is looking strong. Fourth place is going to be tight."

Attendance: 35,899

Referee: Chris Foy

Man of the match: Friedel

Match rating: 6/10

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor