Tottenham gets a scare but Harry Kane comes to the rescue against Aston Villa

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Aston Villa gave Tottenham Hotspur a good scare before Spurs eventually wore down the newly promoted visitors at Tottenham Stadium to win 3-1 on two late goals by — who else? — Harry Kane and another by Premier League debutant Tanguy Ndombele.

The home side came out with all the confidence one would expect from a team that reached the UEFA Champions League final last season. It took less than five minutes for the home side to carve out the first golden scoring chance of the match, but Lucas Moura couldn’t head Danny Rose’s curling cross out of the reach of Tom Heaton, with the Aston Villa goalkeeper able to make a comfortable save in the end.

Then something off-script happened when, pinned in their own end, the Villans punished Spurs with a lightning quick counterattack. Defender Tyrone Mings played an audacious long aerial pass over the heart of Tottenham’s back line. Midfielder John McGinn controlled it off the bounce, beat Rose and then coolly slotted the ball past Hugo Lloris to give his team an unexpected early lead:

The goal may have come against the run of play, but it completely changed the momentum. Suddenly Spurs looked sluggish, out of ideas. They barely threatened for the rest of the first half. And when a couple of chances finally arrived right before the break, they couldn’t convert.

First, Kane — who’d fired a long-range blast over the bar earlier — headed Ndombele’s perfectly lobbed pass over Heaton’s goal. Kane missed a third chance moments later, although the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside.

Order was restored after the break, with Tottenham dominating the proceedings. It appeared to be only a matter of time until a goal came. The introduction of Real Madrid target Christian Eriksen off the bench only made Mauricio Pochettino’s men look more dangerous.

Indeed, Eriksen was front and center on the sequence that led to the equalizer. The Danish playmaker sent in a wicked cross that Villa was able only to clear as far as the top of the box following an all-world Heaton save, but the backstop was powerless to stop Ndombele’s pile-driver when it took a deflection off Mings — who was excellent all afternoon — and settled into the net.

A near-perfect free kick from Eriksen nearly put Spurs in front moments later, but Heaton dove to his right to brilliantly fingertip the effort around the post.

But with less than five minutes of regular time remaining, Kane pounced on a defensive miscue and put his team ahead for good before adding another strike seconds shy of stoppage time:

Here are three quick thoughts following the match:

Spurs newcomer Tanguy Ndombele is legit

After becoming the first Premier League team not to add a new player in consecutive transfer windows heading into this summer, Tottenham spent over $66 million to buy Ndombelethe from Olympique Lyonnais.

The 22-year-old French central midfielder more than lived up to the billing. Besides scoring on his debut and setting up a number of other chances, Ndombele was everywhere, controlling the pace of the game from his deep-lying spot and stepping in to win ball after ball defensively.

It’s only one match, to be sure. But if the newcomer continues to perform the way he did for his new club on Saturday, he’ll be worth every penny.

Two goals from Harry Kane helped Tottenham Hotspur kick off the new season with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa. (Reuters/Matthew Childs)
Two goals from Harry Kane helped Tottenham Hotspur kick off the new season with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa. (Reuters/Matthew Childs)

Tough day for Harry Kane, but he gets rewarded

Kane was far from his clinical best for the first 85 minutes of this contest, but he made no mistake on the opportunity that completed the comeback and gave Spurs all three points.

Kane has been a slow starter in the past, but it says a lot about his quality that the England national team captain had an off day and still scored twice. And it should give him an added boost of confidence heading into next week’s daunting trip to reigning champions Manchester City, who will be out for revenge after Spurs beat them in the Champions League semis last term.

A respectable showing from Aston Villa

This was always going to be a tough match for Villa to get a point from, let alone win, but they looked like they might pull off the upset for much of the afternoon.

They’ll need to clean things up defensively in the games to come, but the 3-1 score line was not indicative of how well they played in this match. For a well-supported team looking to make a mark in its first year back in the top flight following a three-season hiatus, there’s plenty to build on there.

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