Solano bicycle kick breaches Spurs to increase Jol jitters

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur last night slowed the alarming flow of goals against, but not sufficiently to prevent a third straight League defeat under new management.

Tottenham Hotspur last night slowed the alarming flow of goals against, but not sufficiently to prevent a third straight League defeat under new management.

Nolberto Solano's wonderful trickery gave Aston Villa the victory they needed to return to fifth place in the table on an evening when midfielder Steven Davis was given his full debut. It took their points haul to 13 out of 15 ­ a cause of immense satisfaction underlined by Gareth Barry's 14-minute return as a substitute from injury.

Spurs have now conceded more goals in three League games under Martin Jol than they did in 11 under his predecessor as manager Jacques Santini. "We were a bit worried after conceding nine goals in three matches," the Dutchman said. "They aren't the games you want, Arsenal at home and Villa away, but we did OK. We controlled the game in parts. Everybody in the bottom half of the table is worried, but we have the spirit and mentality to get over this."

Spurs, who could have had a penalty at 1-0 when Mark Delaney tangled with Jermain Defoe, played their part, but couldn't stop Villa making it six victories and two draws from eight home games in all competitions this season.

And they themselves were reprieved when Erik Edman clearly impeded Solano in the area in a first half Villa started brightly. After Carlton Cole had finished weakly from one chance and brought a tremendous save out of Paul Robinson from another, off-target long-range drives from Juan Pablo Angel and Thomas Hitzlsperger kept Spurs retreating. But they rallied for Michael Brown and Thimothee Atouba to force token saves from Thomas Sorensen while another moment of potential threat evaporated comically.

Olof Mellberg's trip on Frédéric Kanouté a yard outside the area gave them time to plan the resulting free-kick, but Michael Carrick's back-heel, using Edman as decoy, rolled between the feet of the referee, Chris Foy, who prevented Defoe getting in a shot. But Spurs fashioned the half's best opening when Kanouté laid off Noe Pamarot's diagonal centre. Brown should have done better than allow Sorensen to save at his near post.

In a strong Spurs start to the second half, Defoe forced Sorensen into a good stop with an angled shot on the turn, and it was against the run of play when Villa went ahead with a magical 57th minute goal by Solano ­ his fourth of the season and third in successive home matches. Hitzlsperger's in-swinging corner from the right was flicked on by Gavin McCann for the Peruvian to take two controlling touches just outside the six-yard area and then score with a terrific bicycle kick over the flailing Robinson.

Villa might have been safe had Robinson not superbly blocked at close quarters from Solano after Angel had miscued from Cole's centre. The England goalkeeper also saved at the near post from Ulises De La Cruz before Pedro Mendes, with his last contribution before being replaced by Robbie Keane, centred for Kanouté to power a header wide of the near post.

Villa's assistant manager, Roy Aitken, praised Solano for his all-round performance on his return from international duty. "He's always liable to come up with something special," he said. "It was a great goal. Our home record has been terrific ­ that's five wins here in the League now."

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; De La Cruz, Delaney, Mellberg, Samuel; Solano (Luke Moore, 86), Davis, McCann, Hitzlsperger (Barry, 76); Angel, Cole. Substitutes not used: Postma (gk), Whittingham, Ridgewell.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King, Edman (Ziegler, h-t); Mendes (Keane, 70), Brown, Carrick, Atouba (Davenport, 83); Kanouté, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Redknapp.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).