Three points were an absolute must after the painful capitulation last time out; in all honesty we offered little more than was needed on what was a less than inspiring afternoon out in the West Midlands.
A first half that lacked passion both on and off the pitch, careless in possession and generally quite mis-directed, we were fortunate that the home side were as blunt going forward as we were.
Our goal was something of a fluke and was barely deserved considering how devoid of attacking incision we had been all half. Even our celebrations were cut short when someone decided the best thing to do with a smoke bomb was to lob it at one of the officials, something I doubt we will hear the end of anytime soon.
So all in all the halftime whistle couldn’t have come sooner.
Second half we came out much more brightly, and in all honesty if we hadn’t the score line could have been a lot different.
Far more industrious, especially down Townsend’s right, I suppose there are no guesses for what AVB might have said to Walker at half time. All our good work could have been undone by the introduction of the dangerous Christian Benteke, who roused the pretty dormant Villa faithful in a brief spell of dominance. Our second couldn’t have come at a better time, after neat work from Holtby, Paulinho was able to set Soldado away and the Spaniard duly finished with aplomb.
Townsend will no doubt grab all the headlines after another classy performance, but a couple of other less regular faces impressed me today.
It is easy to forget that this was young Vlad Chiriches’ Premier League debut today, and for someone unaccustomed to our League he dealt with the whole occasion with consummate ease. In fact his calmness in possession would have suggested to the uninformed onlooker that he was indeed the senior partner of our centre half combination today. That isn’t to fault Dawson who looked as solid as I have seen him, still his distributional play leaves a lot to be desired. No the infamous diagonal pass has not gone out of fashion if you were wondering.
It was great to see the ‘beast’ back; no one is safe when he is on the pitch, not even our players. The jury is out on his partnership with Paulinho and we looked a lot better in possession when Dembele entered the fray late on. A Spurs side without Sandro in it is a lot worse off for so many reasons and I hope today was just the start of his re-integration.
Sunday will be remembered as nothing more than a tick against our long list of fixtures this season, and a useful tonic to wash away the memories of a fortnight ago.
I doubt even Levy will have the guts to release a DVD after this one.
Moldova next, the marquee European tie we have all been waiting for.