Aston Villa beat Tottenham as race for European spots tightens up

Tottenham Hotspur’s wretched Premier League away form continued with a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday that left their hopes of qualifying for Europe in the balance.

Goals by Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz extended Tottenham’s winless away streak to seven matches while Villa’s sixth successive home win kept their European hopes very much alive.

Ramsey smashed home Villa’s opener in the eighth minute and Villa should have been out of sight against a Spurs who failed to have a goal attempt in the first half.

Tottenham showed more desire after the break but there was no coming back after Luiz found the net with a 72nd-minute free kick that keeper Fraser Forster should have saved.

Villa were full value for the points, although they did have anxious moments late on after Harry Kane fired home a penalty and Son Heung-min thought he had equalised seconds from the end but was well offside.

Unai Emery’s side moved up a place to seventh with 57 points – the same as sixth-placed Tottenham with both teams having two games left to play. Eighth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, who face Arsenal on Sunday, are two points behind both Villa and Spurs but have three games in hand.

The side finishing sixth are likely to join the fifth-placed finisher in the Europa League with the club coming seventh destined for the Europa Conference League.

While the sun shone at Villa Park, the gloom in the end occupied by the away fans was palpable as Tottenham produced another bland display lacking spirit and flair.

Villa, who have been transformed from possible relegation strugglers to top-six contenders since Emery replaced Steven Gerrard in late October, were quickly in front as Leon Bailey picked out Ramsey who finished clinically.

Ollie Watkins almost doubled Villa’s lead with a diving header and Emiliano Buendia clipped the top of the crossbar with a shot after Bailey’s cutback.

Tottenham finally roused themselves in the second half and Kane should have equalised when he seized on a mistake by Luiz but he fired his shot straight at keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Tottenham substitute Dejan Kulusevski also curled a left-footed effort agonisingly wide for the visitors.

Villa doubled their lead when Cristian Romero gave away a free kick and Luiz’s shot was too good for Forster who will be disappointed not to have kept it out.

Kane was brought down by Martinez late on and after a lengthy VAR check the England captain tucked away his spot-kick for his 27th league goal of the season.

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