Tottenham made light work of fellow Premier League opposition in Aston Villa to storm into the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a 4-0 victory at Villa Park. Jermain Defoe scored in injury time of each half, with Paulinho and Nacer Chadli hitting the back of the net in between.
A combination of injuries and a desire to keep players fresh for perceived more important challenges, meant Paul Lambert and Andre Villas-Boas made numerous changes to their starting lineups that had earned 1-0 wins at the weekend. Tottenham’s rotating was particularly understandable given that they were playing their third match in six days and second in just 48 hours.
But the result was in part a commendation of the squad building done by the north London club in recent times. Villas-Boas was able to hand a debut to defender Vlad Chiriches, as well as a full debut to Ezekiel Fryers. Meanwhile, the likes of Erik Lamela, Lewis Holtby and Defoe returned to the lineup.
It was Holtby, backing up his fine showing against Tromso in the Europa League last week, who created three goals including the opener on the stroke of half-time. The Germany international, lifted a superb pass over the top of the Villa defense to find an unmarked and onside Defoe, who headed past young goalkeeper Jed Steer.
By that point Villa had already come close to taking the lead when Brad Friedel kept out a shot from Marc Albrighton on the midfielder’s return to the side. The real frustration for Lambert, though, will have come when his side were denied a clear penalty at the start of the second half. Jan Vertonghen dragged down the shorts of Villa striker Nicklas Helenius in the penalty area to cause a clear distraction to the substitute striker as he fired on goal. A penalty and a red card should have been the clear outcome, instead there was neither.
And in no time at all, Tottenham took a decisive step toward victory with a second goal. Holtby was again the supplier, this time with a corner from the right to the near post where Paulinho, who scored an injury-time winner against Cardiff on Sunday, showed his scoring instincts to volley into the net.
Tottenham then gave the score line a more emphatic sheen in the final minutes. First Defoe played in Chadli down the right of the area and, with Nathan Baker failing to close him down, the Belgian fired off a low shot that Steer disappointingly failed to keep out at his near post. And in the second minute of injury time Holtby won back possession inside his own half and charged upfield before slipping Defoe through for just the sort of chance the England international relishes. There never looked any doubt of Defoe failing to score as he took the ball around Steer and finished into the empty net to round off a most satisfactory night for Tottenham.