Aston Villa ruined Tottenham’s attempt to climb back into the Premier League’s top four when a costly mistake by Hugo Lloris condemned the north Londoners to a crushing 2-0 defeat on Sunday.
For the first time since France’s World Cup final defeat to Argentina, Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris weakly played Douglas Luiz’s shot early in the second half and Emiliano Buendia put Villa ahead.
Lloris remained on the bench for Tottenham’s draw with Brentford on December 26, as he rested after France’s agonizing final loss in Qatar.
The 36-year-old, who conceded three times against Argentina before France lost on penalties, may have wished he had been given more time to recover after his blunder against Villa.
Brazilian midfielder Luiz added Villa’s second goal in the dying minutes, leading Antonio Conte’s side to the jeers of frustrated fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Tottenham had hoped the first Premier League game of 2023 would serve to jump-start their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
Instead, they got a hangover on New Year’s Day when Villa rebuked a lethargic display in the middle of the table.
Fifth-placed Tottenham have failed to win either game since the World Cup break, a slump in form that allowed fourth-placed Manchester United to climb two points above them.
To add insult to injury to Tottenham, it was former Arsenal boss Unai Emery who masterminded Villa’s success on his return to North London.
Villa manager Emery, sacked by Arsenal in 2019, has now won three of his four Premier League games since replacing sacked Steven Gerrard in November.
Son Heung-min started the match again wearing the mask he used during the World Cup to protect his broken eye socket.
But the Tottenham South Korean star pulled the mask off for good early in the first half and angrily threw it away after failing to check a pass.
– Shell shocked Spurs –
Son’s frustration summed up Tottenham’s sputtering performance.
No player has scored more Premier League goals on New Year’s Day than Harry Kane’s five.
But the Tottenham striker was denied another at the start of the year when he nodded Ivan Perisic’s cross towards goal, only to see Ashley Young come off the line with a deft diving header.
Although Tottenham dominated possession for long periods, they were unable to break through.
Villa hit them with a sucker punch five minutes after the break when the visitors were able to take the lead through Lloris’ blunder.
Luiz’s long shot lacked the power to beat Lloris, but the keeper failed to hold onto it and Ollie Watkins jumped on the loose ball and blasted it to Buendia, who fired home from 10 yards out.
It was the seventh consecutive Premier League game in which Tottenham conceded the first goal.
Perisic couldn’t capitalize on a golden chance to equalize when he shot over from a free kick from Son, while Kane misused a decent chance from just inside the penalty area.
The postponement of those misses delivered Villa the knockout blow in the 73rd minute.
John McGinn’s superb pass split the Tottenham defense and Luiz took a touch before piloting a clinical finish past Lloris.
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