Match Report: Tottenham winger Gareth Bale metes more punishment to Aston Villa's punch-drunk men
Aston Villa 0 Tottenham Hotspur 4
Thursday 27 December 2012
Beaten up by Chelsea – to use Paul Lambert’s own words – Aston Villa suffered their second thumping inside four days, with Tottenham dishing it out this time.
The Villa manager’s January transfer market activity perhaps ought to focus on hiring some bodyguards to stop his young team from being picked on by the Premier League’s big boys.
After the eight they conceded against Chelsea, at least the scoreline was a little less embarrassing. Yet it could easily have been equally comprehensive. Tottenham had 11 goal attempts before half-time and might have been five or six in front by then but for two excellent saves by Brad Guzan and some heroics by his defenders.
In the event, the floodgates were opened by Jermain Defoe 12 minutes into the second half and yielded a torrent in the guise of Gareth Bale, who grabbed a 23-minute hat-trick, his first in the Premier League.
“It was a very good all-round performance and a special one for Gareth,” said the Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas. “His skills and talent put him up there with the best. He is at an excellent moment in his professional and personal life and we are benefiting from that. As he and the team develop he can get better still.”
It was another painful experience for Lambert. “Collectively we have to defend better but they will be all right,” he said. “You have to bounce back. You have no choice.”
For Tottenham, who had earlier announced that displaced goalkeeper Brad Friedel had signed a contract to stay at White Hart Lane until 2014, the result enabled them to nose past Everton into fourth place, although Villas-Boas dismissed the position in the table as “unimportant” without a gap beneath them.
From the start, Villa conceded dominance to the visiting team, who are on a run of five wins in seven that they could easily extend with Reading and Queen’s Park Rangers among their next three opponents.
Bale was an immediate threat, setting up a chance for Kyle Walker and forcing a brilliant save from Guzan within the first 10 minutes. Thereafter, at least until Lambert reacted to the loss of defender Nathan Baker to a hamstring injury by changing from 5-3-2 to 4-4-2, the pressure on the Villa goal was almost relentless. Guzan, who saved from Emmanuel Adebayor and was tested again by Bale five minutes before half-time, would have been busier still but for the willingness of Villa’s centre backs, Baker in particular, to put their bodies on the line.
After Lambert changed his tactics, Villa might have gone ahead eight minutes after the restart when Christian Benteke – effectively a spectator until then – drew a fine save from Hugo Lloris, although an offside flag meant it would not have counted.
However, no sooner had Villa begun to give themselves hope than they were two goals down. First, after successfully blocking off Defoe from a threaded Bale pass, they allowed Kyle Naughton to put the England striker in a second time, to which he responded by poking the ball through Guzan’s legs for his 10th league goal of the season.
Three minutes later, on the hour, they were caught out by a rapid Tottenham break, before Bale took the ball around Guzan and slotted it into the net.
Tottenham, who introduced Scott Parker in the 65th minute as he continues his recuperation from summer surgery, could have coasted from there but Villa kept handing them chances and Bale slotted past Guzan after 72 minutes when Aaron Lennon’s pass found him unmarked, then rolling home his third goal on the end of substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pass six minutes from time.
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