Spurs dominate Villa on Redknapp return
Harry Redknapp enjoyed a successful return to the Tottenham Hotspur dugout as his side moved into third place in the Premier League table with an easy 2-0 win over Aston Villa at White Hart Lane.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign in a hugely one-sided affair that should have seen the former Arsenal striker take home the match ball.
Adebayor, who had not scored in his previous six games, put Spurs ahead with a brilliant scissor-kick in the 14th minute before he took advantage of a mix-up between Shay Given and James Collins to stab home from less than a yard for his second five minutes before half-time.
The on-loan striker wasted two gilt-edged opportunities for his hat-trick, but his failure to bag a third should not detract from what was a classy display from the home side which stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches - eight of which have been wins.
Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Scott Parker were all outstanding in a victory that also proved the perfect way for Redknapp to mark his comeback after the heart scare which caused him to undergo surgery three weeks ago.
Before the match began, the home fans greeted Redknapp's appearance at the dugout with warm applause and he also received a hug from opposite number Alex McLeish. The 64-year-old spoke of how he felt "rough" watching Spurs' nerve-jangling win at Fulham from home on the television two weeks ago, but he had little reason to be worried tonight as his team stamped their dominance on the game from the off.
Indeed, it was McLeish who had the more frantic time early on as he watched his side hit by a series of Tottenham attacks. The first time Redknapp took to his feet was in the 11th minute when Aaron Lennon collected a cross-field ball from Benoit Assou-Ekotto and whipped in a curling cross that Adebayor somehow headed wide from eight yards.
The striker redeemed himself two minutes later, though, by putting Tottenham ahead. After seeing Younes Kaboul's shot cleared off the line, Van der Vaart whipped in a corner that fell to Gareth Bale. The Welshman hammered a miscued effort that flew up in the air and Adebayor was on hand to convert an acrobatic effort from ten yards.
Spurs had their tails up and pushed for a second. Modric side-footed just wide before Van der Vaart ploughed an ambitious shot into the side-netting. Former Spurs man Darren Bent looked isolated up front for Villa and he had to wait until the 24th minute for his first sniff of goal, but Parker appeared from nowhere to execute a perfectly-timed sliding tackle.
Just before half-hour mark Adebayor nutmegged his marker to send Van der Vaart galloping free, but the Dutchman's audacious attempt to lob Shay Given failed and the ball sailed over the Villa goal. A rare error from Parker allowed Gabriel Agbonlahor to break down the left but Kaboul powered back to steal the ball from the striker.
Adebayor hits a second
The home fans mocked the away side's performance, but Tottenham still only had one a one-goal advantage despite their dominance. That changed five minutes before half-time when Adebayor made it 2-0. Collins' failure to clear Bale's low ball caught Given unawares, causing the goalkeeper to fumble the Welshman's cross into the path of Adebayor, who made no mistake from less than a yard.
Brad Friedel made his first save of the game to deny Emile Heskey just after the break, but Spurs were soon back in the ascendancy. Adebayor should have grabbed his hat-trick when he broke clear, but he could only shoot wide when clean through.
Kyle Walker then flashed a 20-yard drive just past Given's right-hand post before Adebayor curled a brilliant shot inches wide. Jermain Defoe came on for Van der Vaart with 20 minutes left.
Another chance for Adebayor to notch his third came and went 13 minutes from time when he shot straight at Given after the Republic of Ireland stopper fumbled another cross - this time from Modric, who was putting in one of his best performances of the season.
Collins was then on hand to block Assou-Ekotto's goal-bound shot as Tottenham continued their pursuit of a third. Modric received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Sandro in injury time shortly after Parker blazed over.
Defoe shot over seconds later and Spurs had to settle for a two-goal victory margin, which Redknapp toasted at the end by saluting the applauding Tottenham fans.