Belfast Telegraph

Defoe doubles up to stretch Spurs' home run

By Marc Isaacs

Jermain Defoe reached a personal milestone for Tottenham when his impressive double strike took him to 50 goals for the club and piled more misery on a struggling Aston Villa side.

Tottenham Hotspur 2

Aston Villa 1

Defoe is clearly relishing his recall after spending the opening part of the campaign on the substitutes' bench. The England striker refused to sulk and has lost none of his predatory instincts by scoring 12 goals in 17 starts this season.

With Robbie Keane ruled out until the New Year with a knee injury and Mido struggling with a groin problem, Defoe has taken his chance and is emerging as one of the most prolific forwards in the Premiership at present.

The talented forward was the difference once again and ensured Tottenham maintained their impressive home record by picking up their 12th straight victory at White Hart Lane this term.

The Tottenham manager, Martin Jol, had nothing but praise for his striker and says he will do everything in his power to keep him at the club despite Aston Villa reportedly showing a keen interest in signing him when the transfer window re-opens in January.

"Fifty is a lot of goals for Jermain to score and he was the difference between the two sides," Jol said. "Jermain has probably been our sharpest forward player this season. With Robbie Keane and Mido out of the team he will get a run in the side. You need players who can come in and change the game. I know Aston Villa were going for Keane a few weeks ago, now it is Defoe being linked and it will probably be Berbatov next. He's not for sale. Never. Not at all."

After losing 3-1 against Newcastle last weekend, Defoe finally gave the Tottenham supporters a festive treat when he broke the deadlock on 58 minutes.

Dimitar Berbatov raced unchallenged into the Villa half before playing a through ball into the path of his strike partner, who fired past Gabor Kiraly and into the corner of the net.

The England striker scored his second after 77 minutes. Berbatov once again turned provider when he flicked the ball into the path of Defoe on the edge of the area and smashed a fierce drive past Kiraly.

Gareth Barry pulled a consolation goal back for Villa on 81 minutes after he turned Michael Dawson inside the area, but it came to late to save his side.

Villa have now failed to win in their last eight games, but manager Martin O'Neill refuses to criticise his team and hopes to turn the club's fortunes around by strengthening the squad next month.

O'Neill said: "There has been a good determination about the side in recent weeks and we have been playing well, but had no results to show from it. The young players need to keep believing.

"The squad is a bit weak at the moment and we couldn't do much at the start of the season. In January we hope to do something about it."

Goals: Defoe (58) 1-0; Defoe (77) 2-0; Barry (81) 2-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Lee; Ghaly (Murphy 69), Huddlestone, Zokora, Malbranque; Berbatov, Defoe (Davenport 89). Substitutes not used: Cerny, Ziegler, Assou-Ekotto.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Kiraly; Hughes (Ridgewell 36), Mellberg (Osbourne 46), Cahill, Barry; Petrov (Bouma 46), Gardner, McCann, Davis; Baros, Agbonlahor.

Substitutes not used: Olejnik, Angel.

Referee: U Rennie (Yorkshire).

Booked: Tottenham: Malbranque; Aston Villa: McCann, Cahill.

Man of the match: Defoe.

Attendance: 35,293.

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