Aston Villa fell short at the final hurdle against Tottenham Hotspur, in a topsy-turvy game for defender Bjorn Engels.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa hosted Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park this afternoon, in the midst of Storm Dennis – which had caused some fans issues before the game.
The game started relatively open, but it was Aston Villa who took the lead within the first ten minutes as Anwar El Ghazi took Pepe Reina’s ball down well, before turning and rushing into the opposition’s final third. He played a ball into the box which Toby Alderwiereld attempted to clear – but the Belgian knocked the ball into his own net – with Samatta likely to net regardless if Alderwiereld hadn’t touched the ball.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment just five minutes later as El Ghazi played a risky ball back to Kortney Hause which allowed Lucas Moura to run into the Villa box, before he cut the ball centrally for a shot at goal from Dele Alli – which was blocked well by Hause. Kudos, though, to El Ghazi, who raced back to attempt to win the ball back.
Douglas Luiz could have, and really should have, doubled the lead for Aston Villa in the 19th minute, as Jack Grealish worked the ball into the box – drawing Spurs defence towards him before poking a ball into Luiz who fired towards goal. The ball was blocked by Ben Davies on the line.
Aston Villa had the upper hand and it showed as more attempts came firing into the Tottenham Hotspur box. There was another chance in the 23rd as Grealish found himself onside and able to play a ball into a central position towards Samatta before Eric Dier sliced it out for a corner.
Tottenham’s equaliser was an odd one. A corner came into the box and Drinkerwater headed away onto the heel of Lucas Moura, which flicked the ball into the air and allowed Alderwiereld to volley into the roof of the net.
Dele Alli had the opportunity to give Spurs the lead as a quick throw-in and flick on allowed him through on goal – but Pepe Reina narrowed the angle and forced Alli to fire with the outside of his boot and wide.
Anwar El Ghazi forced Hugo Lloris into an awkward save shortly after with a powerful shot from around 25 yards out.
Pepe Reina produced a stellar save to stop Alli just after the 40th minute, before Bjorn Engels provided just as strong of a block with his mid-drift directly after.
On the brink of half time, Spurs were awarded a penalty as Bjorn Engels was adjudged to have fouled Bergwijn in the area – a very, very, odd decision by VAR in what most deemed to be a fine challenge – which was saved by Pepe Reina before Son poked the rebound past the Spaniard and into the net.
Anwar El Ghazi had a chance in the 51st minute as Samatta chested the ball into his path – but his shot was fired directly at Lloris.
Just two minutes later however, another Belgian redeemed himself – this time with Bjorn Engels rising the highest at the end of a Jack Grealish corner to head into the bottom corner of the net. This was Engels first Aston Villa goal.
With half an hour to play, it was all to play for! Both sides made their first changes of the game, with Drinkwater replaced by Marvelous Nakamba and Dier replaced by Lo Celso.
Pepe Reina was forced into a strong save in the 60th minute as Son Heung-Min moved past Bjorn Engels and fired towards goal.
In the 69th minute, Anwar El Ghazi was replaced by Trezeguet – around five minutes after El Ghazi clashed heads with Alderwiereld in the Spurs box.
Pepe Reina and Ezri Konsa combined well to fix a mistake from Konsa in the 74th minute – with the Spaniard standing tall and blocking Son’s shot.
The 83rd minute saw new signing Borja Baston get his first minutes as an Aston Villa player as he replaced Mbwana Samatta. Dele Alli was replaced by Gedson Fernandes for Spurs.
Pepe Reina made another fine save as Son Heung-min shot from a tight angle in the 85th. He followed up with another save post-corner.
Frederic Guilbert picked up the first yellow of the afternoon in the 86th minute for a foul on Bergwijn.
Reina, again, was forced into a strong save as Lo Celso took a shot in the second minute of added time. Marvelous Nakamba was booked for a challenge on Bergwijn shortly after.
Bjorn Engels made a mistake in the 93rd minute, almost backheeling it into the path of Son Heung-Min, who raced in behind and finished past Pepe Reina to give Spurs the lead.
Late heartbreak. Again.