Aston Villa vs. Tottenham: Bale's Boxing Day Hat-Trick Helps Spurs to 4-0 Win
The raw pace of Gareth Bale and Tottenham’s attack was too much for Aston Villa to cope with as Paul Lambert’s side slumped to a 4-0 loss at Villa Park.
The visiting Londoners dominated the majority of the game and took the lead in the second half through Jermain Defoe before three goals from their Welsh midfielder sealed an emphatic Boxing Day win.
Paul Lambert made three changes to the side that conceded a club-record eight goals at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, with Fabian Delph, Joe Bennett and Karim El Ahmadi stepping in to try and rejuvenate a more-than-humiliated Villa side.
Andre Villas-Boas also tinkered with his starting 11 after his side were held to a goal-less draw against Stoke three days before. Michael Dawson was removed from the centre of defence, with Jan Vertonghen slipping inside and Kyle Naughton taking the vacant left-back position.
It was AVB’s side that took the initiative and dominated possession for the opening 20 minutes of the game.
An early goal failed to come, and while Bale forced a great save from Brad Guzan with an effort from range, Tottenham struggled to really test the Villa goal, and lacked service from any of their five early corners.
A better team might have punished such wasteful attacking play, but Villa are not a side that possesses that sort of talent. Plucky spirit and desire may have found them a win at Anfield just over a week ago, but against Tottenham it took almost 20 minutes for them to have a meaningful piece of possession inside their guests' half. Whenever they did string five passes together, the sixth rarely found its target.
Tottenham began to put their foot on the gas, as Bale and Defoe took it in turns to race at the heart of the Villa defence.
But tests for Guzan were still rare, and after Emmanuel Adebayor flung a free header straight at the keeper, Tottenham began to look frustrated.
With frustration came a chance for Brett Holman, and the Australian should have done better with Matthew Lowton’s cross on the counterattack, his outstretched leg scuffing the ball into the ground and wide at the back post 10 minutes before the interval.
Back came Spurs, with Adebayor once again seeing his every effort blocked by the flailing bodies of the Villa defence, while another long-range effort from Bale kept Guzan on his toes.
The halftime whistle was greeted with a delighted exhale from the home fans before their tense intake of breath returned as the teams came out after the interval.
Their nerves were calmed by the introduction of Marc Albrighton before the restart and the little English winger’s first touch saw him leading Villa on the attack. His effort could not match his enthusiasm as William Gallas easily cleared the danger, but his impact was felt across the pitch and Villa started the second period in the ascendency.
It didn’t last. After two chances, one of which forced an impressive save from Hugo Lloris, were wasted by Christian Benteke’s inability to stay onside, Tottenham began to find their stride once more. Their pace always looked the difference in the first half and it was the lightning-quick Bale that instigated their opener.
The Welshman, on the break, slid the ball to Defoe who was crowded out by the returning Villa defence. Staying composed, the Tottenham attack found Kyle Naughton on the edge of the 18-yard box, and it was the left-back who slipped the ball through to Defoe once again, before the striker tucked the ball between Guzan’s legs for his 10th league goal of the season.
The second came four minutes later and, once again, it was the pace of the Spurs' attack that opened up Villa.
Christian Benteke was played into the right channel as Villa looked for an equaliser, but his cross was poor and easily cleared forward. With bodies caught upfield, Defoe lead another foot race against Paul Lambert's defence. His initial break was snuffed out, but the nimble feet of Tottenham’s Welsh winger nipped onto the loose ball and through on goal. Guzan sprawled as he was rounded and Bale had number two.
With Villa suitably crushed, a third was always on the cards, and Bale once again provided the easy finish. The four in Villa’s defence, who had been reduced from five after Nathan Baker’s departure through injury early in the first half, were unable to deal with the bodies coming forward.
Aaron Lennon sucked the claret and blue shirts in with a charging run on goal before squaring to Bale for his side's third of the night with 17 minutes left to play.
Defoe could have had a second when he ballooned an effort from just behind the penalty spot high into the North Stand, but it was Bale’s night as he tapped in substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pull back to cap his near-faultless performance with a hat-trick.
Albrighton’s late strike failed to find a late conciliation goal for a miserable Villa side who have now conceded 12 goals in their last two games. Tottenham have now lost just one game from their last eight and sit two points behind Chelsea in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League.
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