Sunday 17 December 2017

Pochettino gives new father Kane time off

Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 0

Tottenham's Dele Alli comes on as a substitute to replace Vincent Janssen
Tottenham's Dele Alli comes on as a substitute to replace Vincent Janssen

Mauricio Pochettino gave Harry Kane time off to sleep following the birth of his first baby but Tottenham coped without their star striker by beating Aston Villa 2-0 in the FA Cup third round.

Ben Davies, with his first goal for the club, and Son Heung-min both scored in the final 20 minutes at White Hart Lane to breathe life into an otherwise uninspiring Spurs display.

Pochettino made nine changes from the team that ended Chelsea's 14-match winning run on Wednesday and it showed as Tottenham struggled for their usual flow and tempo against a resurgent Villa side.

Dele Alli made a difference off the substitutes' bench in the second half but Kane was left out of the squad completely after enduring a sleepless night while his partner Kate delivered their baby daughter, Ivy Jane.

"It is better now after a 2-0 win to explain," Pochettino said. "I want to send from here a big, big heart to Kate, his wife.

"It was a difficult night for her but now it's OK and they have a beautiful girl. Harry was more tired than his wife and we sent him to sleep.

"He spent all night at the hospital waiting and at 7.30am the baby was born. The plan was for him to be on the bench."

Vincent Janssen started up front in Kane's absence but the Dutchman is still yet to score from open play since joining Tottenham for £17.5million in the summer and he appeared devoid of confidence against a stubborn Villa defence.

Janssen enjoyed his best spell of the match shortly after half-time, bending a shot straight at Villa's on-loan goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, but Pochettino could not wait and introduced Alli on the hour. Janssen trudged off glum-faced.

Asked if his striker had struggled, Pochettino said: "It is true.

"In the second half he started to find better space to play but we decided to put Alli on.

"It was tough but not only for him. He needs to work hard and not be frustrated."

Alli has been in scintillating form for Spurs, having scored seven goals in his previous four matches, and it was the midfielder's dummy and pass that set up Georges-Kevin Nkoudou's cross for Davies' opener.

"I asked Dele Alli if he would come and play for us," Villa manager Steve Bruce said. "He said 'someday, Steve, I'd love to' but I think 80 million might be too much for us."

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