Copy of 2024-03-10T154230Z_525323131_UP1EK3A13I37B_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-AVA-TOT-REPORT-1710088879502
Tottenham Hotspur's Brennan Johnson scores their second goal past Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez during their Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham on Sunday. Image Credit: Reuters

Birmingham: Tottenham landed a crucial blow in the fight to finish in the Premier League’s top four with a 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa on Sunday.

Ange Postecoglou’s side arrived at Villa Park knowing defeat to their fourth placed rivals would have been potentially fatal to their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

But the north Londoners rose to the challenge with a second half goal spree in the rain-soaked west midlands.

James Maddison put Tottenham ahead and Brennan Johnson doubled their lead before Villa captain John McGinn was sent off for chopping down Destiny Udogie.

Son Heung-min and Timo Werner struck in stoppage-time to leave fifth placed Tottenham just two points behind Villa with a game in hand.

“We made it tough for Villa. They worked hard just to contain us. We got our rewards in the second half,” Postecoglou said.

“Everyone was billing this as a do-or-die for us. I assume we’re not dead yet. It means we’re one game closer, just 11 games to go.”

Restoring Tottenham to Europe’s elite club competition in his first season in charge would be a significant achievement for Postecoglou and the target is now firmly in his control.

The Australian this week said reaching the Champions League would not be “a Willy Wonka golden ticket” for his club.

But the defeat left Villa feeling as sick as Augustus Gloop, the gluttonous boy who gets in trouble while visiting Wonka’s chocolate factory in Roald Dahl’s book.

Villa are hoping to reach the Champions League for the first time since 1983, but this was a major setback to their unexpected bid for a top four finish.

“We weren’t clinical because they were defending very well and we didn’t control the game,” Villa boss Unai Emery said.

“We have to control our emotions. The first two goals were crazy. We have to move on.”

Emery’s team claimed an early penalty when Ollie Watkins was sent flying by Micky van de Ven’s crunching challenge, but VAR rejected their appeals.

Spurs run riot

In a game played at a frantic pace, Villa were left frustrated when Matty Cash poked into the side-netting from Leon Bailey’s cross.

Lucas Digne nearly broke the deadlock just before half-time with a glancing header that looped wide from McGinn’s cross.

Tottenham lost Van de Ven to an injury immediately after the interval, but the visitors were unfazed as they snatched the lead in the 50th minute.

Pape Sarr beat the Villa offside trap and whipped in a teasing cross that Maddison adroitly volleyed past Martinez from five yards before celebrating with his dart-throwing routine in front of the Tottenham fans.

Villa were shell-shocked and there was worse to come for Emery’s men three minutes later.

Ezri Konsa took too long on the ball before playing a weak pass that was intercepted by Kulusevski.

Son pounced on the loose ball, drove towards the Villa area and slipped his pass to Johnson, who fired high into the net before emulating Maddison’s darts tribute.

Johnson’s goal meant Tottenham had equalled their club record streak of scoring in 27 successive league games since the start of a season.

As a gloomy silence settled over Villa Park, McGinn’s frustration reached boiling point in the 65th minute.

Lunging into a reckless tackle on Udogie, the Villa captain was immediately shown a red card that he could have no complaints about.

With Villa in tatters, Son finished off Kulusevski’s cross with a first-time strike in stoppage-time.

Werner’s composed finish from Son’s pass in the final moments underscored Tottenham’s superiority.

Copy of 2024-03-10T143545Z_1775092229_UP1EK3A14JI9B_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-BRH-NTG-REPORT-1710088877134
Nottingham Forest's Andrew Omobamidele scores an own goal and Brighton & Hove Albion's first during their Premier League match. Image Credit: Reuters

Brighton beat struggling Forest

A first-half own goal helped Brighton & Hove Albion stretch their Premier League unbeaten home streak to a club record-extending 12 matches as they beat relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest 1-0 at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

The home side, who came into the contest off the back of three defeats across all competitions, were the better side throughout the first half and got the lead in the 29th minute after defender Andrew Omobamidele accidentally bundled the ball into his own net following a free-kick.

Forest looked to offer an immediate response when Divock Origi made a run on the right side of the box, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen. Forest kept threatening Brighton’s advantage after the interval, but ran out of time.

The Seagulls rise to eighth in the standings with 42 points from 28 matches, while Forest stay at 17th place, three points clear of the relegation zone with 10 games to go.

Copy of 2024-03-10T155414Z_1740553601_UP1EK3A186DGG_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-WHU-BUR-REPORT-1710088872881
West Ham United's Danny Ings celebrates scoring their second goal with Aaron Cresswell and Mohammed Kudus during their Premier League match against Burnley at London Stadium. Image Credit: Reuters

West Ham draw with Burnley

West Ham United’s Danny Ings scored a stoppage-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Burnley at the London Stadium on Sunday to deny his former club their first Premier League victory of 2024.

The result moved Burnley off the bottom and up to 19th with 14 points in the standings while West Ham are seventh with 43 points, one ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion.

David Fofana gave Burnley a shock lead in the 11th minute with a rocket from outside the box to end their goal drought in the league which had lasted nearly 5-1/2 hours after their last goal came against Liverpool in early February.

West Ham’s day went from bad to worse on the stroke of halftime when defender Konstantinos Mavropanos scored an own goal, but Lucas Paqueta halved Burnley’s lead with a solo goal just 30 seconds into the second half.

Substitute Ings had one goal ruled out for offside in the build-up minutes after coming on but he made it 2-2 in the 91st minute when he controlled Mohammed Kudus’s cross, turned on the spot and fired home as the two teams shared the spoils.