Tottenham produced a blistering second-half display at Aston Villa as Son Heung-min’s hat-trick helped secure a 4-0 victory on Saturday night, giving them the initiative in the top four race.
Son got Spurs off to the perfect start inside three minutes, as the ball fell graciously for the South Korean to fire a half-volley in off the post.
Villa reacted as Matty Cash cracked their first shot on target straight at Hugo Lloris, with the Frenchman needed again soon after to brilliantly tip Jacob Ramsey’s fierce drive over the bar. Lloris was again needed to repel a swerving John McGinn strike from range.
It was blood and thunder stuff from Steven Gerrard’s side, with the likes of Matty Cash and Jacob Ramsey making some robust slide challenges inside the opening 25 minutes as they tried to rattle their visitors.
Spurs did struggle to gain control as Villa pressed for an equaliser, with Ollie Watkins ballooning a header over after Philippe Coutinho had done well to dig out a cross. The England striker was also denied by Lloris after being slid in by Danny Ings.
It was Ings who went closest moments later when Tyrone Mings flicked a cross to the back post, but he made a hash of his finish to deny Villa the equaliser they deserved.
Tottenham were penned in as the hosts swarmed around their midfield, though substitute Sergio Reguilon did draw a save from Emiliano Martinez , being ably helped by a Mings block which clattered him.
However, despite Villa’s domination it was Spurs who doubled their lead when they struck early in the second half. Harry Kane’s flicked header fell into Dejan Kulusevski’s path and the Swede powered a left-footed finish into the far corner to give his side breathing space.
That goal seemed to knock the impetus out of Villa and they couldn’t offer the same attacking threat they did in the first half before Kane’s flicked header on the halfway line sent Son in again. The forward ran through and kept his composure to seal the points for Spurs.
He completed his hat trick soon after, being picked out by Kulusevski and curling a shot into the far corner. That was also his 17th Premier League goal of the season, equaling his best ever haul in a campaign in England.
The victory gives Spurs the initiative in the top four race after Manchester United and Arsenal both lost on Saturday. They are now four points ahead of the Gunners with a superior goal difference having played a game more, while Villa are down in 12th as they target a top ten finish.
Emiliano Martinez (GK) – 5/10 – Decent save from Reguilon, taking a whack from teammate Mings in the process. Didn’t make any saves, with Tottenham’s finishing precise throughout.
Matty Cash (RB) – 5/10 – Looked fired up, smashing Doherty early and having his side’s first shot on target. Went AWOL positionally for a few of Spurs’ goals.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 3/10 – Poor header allowed Son the opportunity to score. Beaten by Kane before Kulusevski’s strike
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 3/10 – Made a few over the top challenges which he was lucky to escape further sanction for. Generally all at sea against Tottenham’s front three.
Lucas Digne (LB) – 4/10 – Didn’t offer too much in attack and struggled with Kulusevski later in the game.
Douglas Luiz (DM) – 6/10 – His physical presence gave Villa the momentum in the first half, mopping up well and making plenty of tackles. Presence was nowhere near as domineering in the second period.
John McGinn (CM) – 5/10 – Cracking shot from distance was well saved by Lloris. Bulldozed his way through Spurs at points, though sometimes a little too forcefully and erratically.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – 5/10 – Went close but saw a show tipped over by Lloris. Lively but crumbled alongside his midfielders as Spurs unpicked the hosts at will in the second half.
Philippe Coutinho (AM) – 6/10 – Some rusty touches and passes but first real contribution came when he crossed well for Watkins. Nearly caught out Lloris with a free kick from the wing. Looked dangerous but brought off at 4-0.
Danny Ings (ST) – 4/10 – Booked for a late challenge on Reguilon. Squandered some good openings during the first half, when Villa needed to make their ascendancy count.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – 5/10 – Got underneath a header from Coutinho’s cross when he should have at least hit the target.
Leon Bailey (ST) – 5/10 – Lloris gifted him an easy opener but he could only balloon it into the stands.
Emiliano Buendia (AM) – 5/10 – Got a flick on a corner which was held by Lloris.
Ashley Young (LB) – 3/10 – Booked for a cynical challenge on a breaking Kane seconds after coming on.
Hugo Lloris (GK) – 9/10 – Busy after Tottenham’s opener, making a string of fantastic saves. Kept Spurs in it during the first half before they ran away with the contest later on. Almost gifted Bailey a consolation late on but got away with it.
Cristian Romero (CB) – 8/10 – Charged out from the back three to make tackles, sometimes getting it right and sometimes clattering a poor Villa player. Got it right most of the time in another commanding display.
Eric Dier (CB) – 7/10 – Saw plenty of the ball as Spurs’ starting point. Organised the defence during hectic moments and cool on the ball as the game settled down.
Ben Davies (CB) – 7/10 – Steady and reliable on the left of Spurs’ three centre backs. Helped create space on the left.
Emerson Royal (RWB) – 6/10 – Made some important blocks and defended generally well, but offered little in attack. To be fair, with Spurs’ front three in excellent form, he didn’t need to.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – 7/10 – Had a pretty chastening first half alongside Hojbjerg during the first half as Villa’s midfield swarmed. The game settled with Spurs’ second-half goals and Bentancur helped tick things over towards the final whistle.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – 7/10 – Booked for a tussle with Coutinho in the corner. Was pretty mouthy with the referee over some sketchy Villa tackling but largely kept his cool.
Matt Doherty (LWB) – N/A – Tried to continue after getting a meaty challenge from Cash but had to be brought off around the 20th minute with an injury.
Dejan Kulusevski (RF) – 8/10 – Had more work than play to complete in the first half but started the second brilliantly, finishing well to make it 2-0. Held the ball long enough before playing it to Son for the fourth.
Harry Kane (ST) – 9/10 – Small part in the first goal as his blocked shot fell for Son before his flick teed up Kulusevski for the second. Nodded a ball into Son’s path for the third. Playmaking was just exceptional, though no goal came.
Son Heung-min (LF) – 10/10 – Awesome finish early on to give his side the early initiative. Kept his cool to rattle in Spurs’ third on the break before completing his hat trick by whipping in Kulusevski’s pass. Three shots, three goals, and the match winner for his side.
Sergio Reguilon (LWB) – 7/10 – Replaced the stricken Doherty. Deflected strike nearly crept in. A good attacking outlet and didn’t neglect his defensive duties.
Lucas Moura (LF) – 5/10 – Helped see the game out.
Steven Bergwijn (RF) – 5/10 – Same as above.