Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa
Ben Davies and Son Heung-min spared Tottenham’s blushes with two late goals as Spurs beat Aston Villa 2-0 to move into the FA Cup fourth round.
Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the team that ended Chelsea’s 14-match winning run on Wednesday and his stand-ins struggled, until the 71st minute when Davies headed home his first goal in Tottenham’s colours.
Son put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes to play after Pochettino had brought on Dele Alli earlier in the second half to inject some life into his side.
Alli, who scored twice against Chelsea, certainly made a difference, along with 21-year-old winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, who came off the bench to set up Davies’ opener.
Pochettino rested the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Victor Wanyama, instead giving chances to Son, Moussa Sissoko and academy graduate Harry Winks.
Sam Johnstone made his debut in goal after joining Villa on loan from Manchester United while Gabriel Agbonlahor was handed only his third start of the season by manager Steve Bruce.
Spurs have only made the FA Cup quarter-finals once in their last six attempts and it remains to be seen how seriously Pochettino will take the competition, particularly if his men continue their charge in both the Premier League and Europa League.
Mike Dean was back refereeing his first match since his controversial decision to send off West Ham’s Sofiane Feghouli in their defeat to Manchester United six days ago and his return was not lost on Villa’s supporters, who chanted a number of times claiming the official’s allegiances were with their opponents.
Tottenham, however, failed to register a single shot on target during a dreary opening 45 minutes in which neither side were particularly poor, just pedestrian, lacking either the intensity or ambition to even create a chance let alone a goal.
Vincent Janssen, still searching for his first Premier League goal from open play and not even included on the bench against Chelsea in midweek, looked devoid of confidence while Son and Sissoko behind him huffed and puffed but never really threatened early on.
Villa were happy to sit tight but came under pressure at the start of the second half as first Janssen exchanged passes with Son and bent a shot straight at Johnstone before Kieran Trippier’s cross found Son at the back post but the South Korean scuffed his finish.
Pochettino, however, was not convinced, and on the hour he turned to Alli, the in-form midfielder replacing a glum-faced Janssen up front.
Son tested Johnstone with a fizzing shot but the best chance fell to Villa and Agbonlahor, whose close-range finish had to be blocked by Toby Alderweireld after Alan Hutton’s flick on.
Alderweireld was withdrawn soon after as Tottenham switched to four at the back, with Nkoudou thrown on to offer some penetration out wide.
One minute later, he provided it, as Alli sold a clever dummy in-field before teeing up Nkoudou to cross, and Davies was the unlikely recipient, his glancing header beating Johnstone into the far corner of the net.
After struggling for so long to open up their opponents, nine minutes later Tottenham doubled their lead.
Trippier and Sissoko bamboozled Mile Jedinak out wide, leaving Sissoko able to square for Son, who slid home a simple finish.
Nkoudou’s impressive contribution continued with a superb run down the left, which ended with a shot fired wide of the far post and Son could have made the result more emphatic late on. Tottenham, however, are safely through.
Today’s other FA Cup results:
- Cardiff City 1-2 Fulham
- Liverpool 0-0 Plymouth Argyle
- Chelsea 4-1 Peterborough United
- Middlesborough 3-0 Sheffield United