Solano Special - 24/11/2004
BERTO Solano plunged Tottenham deeper into trouble and elevated Aston Villa back into the top six with a second-half winner at Villa Park.
The Peruvian international struck his fourth goal of the season to make it 13 points from the last five games for David O'Leary's in-form side.
But in contrast, Tottenham have now lost six league games in a row - including three under new coach Martin Jol - and are sliding towards the relegation zone at an alarming rate.
It was not a classic performance by Villa but they have acquired that knack of eking out results, particularly at home where they are unbeaten in seven matches this season.
In fact, they have lost only three of their last 23 league games stretching back to last season and O'Leary has worked wonders with one of the smallest squads in the top flight.
At least Tottenham managed to tighten up defensively to a degree after shipping 10 goals in the previous three games.
And they were left to rue some less than deadly finishing as Michael Brown and the lively Jermaine Defoe spurned clear-cut chances.
But Villa also looked threatening via Carlton Cole up front, while Gavin McCann again conducted operations effectively from midfield and there was a promising debut from Steven Davis.
Against the run of play, Villa went ahead in the 56th minute through Solano.
Thomas Hitzlsperger's inswinging free-kick was flicked on at the near post by McCann to Solano, who had time to turn and flick the ball up before drilling it past goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
Solano had a great chance to double his side's lead three minutes later after a Cole cross had been turned across goal by Angel into his path, but Robinson managed to block his 10-metre shot.
He said afterwards: 'I managed to take a touch and did a half-volley, it was a fantastic goal.
Spurs boss Martin Jol was keen to take the positives from his side's performance.
'We could have had the draw, the first half we controlled the game and in the second half we even played better in the first 10 minutes,' he said.
'Then we gave a corner away, gave a sloppy goal away again which was disappointing and after that we could have scored.'
Jol thought his side deserved a penalty when Jlloyd Samuel appeared to catch Jermain Defoe's ankle in the penalty area, though appeals were waved away.
'I thought it was a penalty from the bench. It wasn't kicking, it was standing on his foot but the ref was closer and he didn't give it.' - Wire Services.
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