Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are not traditional rivals in any sense of the word. Both are teams that once tasted success but, in modern times, are no longer challenging for trophies. Villa have, in fact, also been relegated and returned to the Premier League in recent years. Yet both are currently in a competitive mid-table slot and both are looking to break into the top half of the table. As it turns out, both the sides are set to clash this Sunday (October 3). Which makes it as good a time as any to cast our minds back to October 1, 2007, when the two sides met.
Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa played out a classic match for the ages. And now we’re going back to look at what a crazy night at White Hart Lane it was.
Spurs celebrated their 125th anniversary on 1 October 2007, and they celebrated it in style. The club paraded some notable club legends around White Hart Lane as the atmosphere felt like a party.
However, off the field, the situation was dire. Spurs, under the management of Martin Jol, were languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League. They were also questionable defensively – an issue that plagued them in this game.
Villa was also no pushover. Under Martin O’Neill, the club developed into an exciting attacking side and boasted the likes of Ashley Young, Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor in their ranks.
So, it was always going to be a close game. But no one present there could have guessed how close it would pass.
Tottenham Hotspur bounced back against Aston Villa
The game started well for Tottenham and they took the lead in the 20th minute. A corner from Tom Huddlestone was well met by Dimitar Berbatov, who nodded home from close range.
however, Villa were level two minutes later. A corner from Gareth Barry looked like a routine collection from Paul Robinson but he inexplicably left it out. The ball fell to Martin Lauren, who smashed home from close range.
It was Lauren again who was responsible for the second goal, which came after just 11 minutes. Young gave a short free kick to Barrie, who was unmarked on the left flank and played the ball in.
A bit of ping-pong ensued but Lauren got the final touch and Spurs were now back to take the lead. And it didn’t get better from there.
Agbonlahor collected a knockdown and then got around Michael Dawson before fizzing a low shot from a wide angle past Robinson. led the game 3–1 at half time. It would be fair to say that the Spurs weren’t in the best of shape at all.
And then, things didn’t get any better in the second half. On the stroke of the hour mark, Villa had a free-kick in a dangerous position. It was Craig Gardner who stepped up to take it and he made an unusual move.
Instead of curling one over the wall, he threw a low shot over the jump wall and into the bottom corner. If the game didn’t appear dead before, it certainly appears to be dead now. Except for the fact that it actually wasn’t.
Spurs full comeback for the ages
The withdrawal began with the gentlest of moves. Robbie Keane played a short pass out to Gareth Bale, who was then a young left-back. Bale beat his man and delivered a fine cross for Jermain Defoe to find.
Defoe’s shot rebounded off the post and found Pascal Chimbonda, who duly slotted in the rebound. 2-4 and 21 minutes left. As improbable as that seemed, return was a distinct possibility.
This became even more evident in the 81st minute. A free-kick played in by Huddlestone led to Marlon Harewood clumsily fouling Darren Bent inside the area. The referee duly pointed to the spot and Keane converted the penalty with ease. 3-4 now.
Yet even though he scored twice, Spurs’ shaky defense meant there was some doubt over his return. But momentum is a funny thing in football. Once it turns against a team, they are often powerless to stop it and miracles can happen.
This is exactly what happened in stoppage time. A long throw-in led to a game of head tennis between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa players.
The ball eventually fell to Younus Kabul, who fired one into the roof of the net. White Hart Lane heaved with joy, the most unlikely comeback ever had been accomplished.