Youngsters Davies, Nkoudou spark Spurs vs. Aston Villa
A second-string Tottenham team put an uninspiring first-half display behind them to progress past Championship side Aston Villa in Sunday's FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane.
Spurs were unable to muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes but the introductions of Dele Alli and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, coupled with a change of formation, gave the home side new life, as they struck twice in the final 20 minutes to win 2-0.
The breakthrough came from an unlikely source as left-back Ben Davies headed home, and Son Heung-min then put Mauricio Pochettino's side out of sight with Spurs' second.
Spurs avoided an upset and booked their place in the next round without the need for a replay.
A number of squad men will also have drawn confidence from this outing -- particularly Nkoudou, who set up the opening goal moments after his introduction, and the goalscorer Davies. Moussa Sissoko and Son also found their feet in the closing stages and combined to score the second goal.
Spurs still look short of the strength in depth required to win this competition, assuming Pochettino intends to continue fielding weakened line-ups.
Tottenham were given a decent draw at home against a Championship side but badly lacked creativity in the first half, and better opponents will give them problems.
Reserve striker Vincent Janssen was particularly poor and seems to be getting worse with every appearance.
9 -- The Argentine understandably gave opportunities to players who have seen little action recently, but there was no charity. Janssen was hauled off on the hour-mark and Pochettino then made a key tactical change, swapping a superfluous centre-back (Toby Alderweireld) for a winger and switching from 3-4-2-1 to 4-2-3-1. Spurs went 1-0 up seconds later. Perhaps the manager could have made that change earlier but otherwise he made the right decisions.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Michel Vorm, 6 -- Had very little to do as Villa only managed one shot on target.
DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 6 -- The youngster had a simple evening -- given he was one of three centre-backs against a side whose priority was containment -- but he was solid and won his headers.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 7 -- Rarely troubled but made a key block, stopping Gabriel Agbonlahor's shot at close range in the 65th minute when the game was still goalless.
DF Kevin Wimmer, 6 -- Like his fellow defenders, the Austrian had little to do.
DF Kieran Trippier, 7 -- Slid a nice ball down the line to Janssen in the first half and then delivered a good cross to Son in the second period before playing a part in the build-up to the second goal with a pass to Sissoko.
DF Ben Davies, 7 -- Looked rusty and off the pace for much of the game, and he seemed frustrated with himself after making a couple of errors, on and off the ball, in the second half. But the Welshman popped up unexpectedly in the box to score the all-important opener, netting his first goal for the club.
MF Eric Dier, 6 -- Primarily a defensive midfielder, the 22-year-old found himself trying to unlock an unadventurous Villa side. There were some nice moments -- a one-two with Sissoko and a burst up the right flank, for example -- but some of his more ambitious passes went astray.
MF Harry Winks, 7 -- Looked frustrated at times in the first half as Spurs' front three players struggled to hold the ball up or give him options. Nevertheless, he provided boundless energy and threw himself into tackles as well as dictating play, while forcing a save with a 25-yard effort.
MF Son Heung-min, 7 -- Struggled to make an impact in the first half but became more dangerous after moving up front in place of Janssen. The South Korean forced a save before tucking a neat finish into the bottom left corner.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 7 -- Similarly to Son, the Frenchman struggled in the first period but ultimately made a useful contribution, setting up the second goal.
FW Vincent Janssen, 4 -- Needed a confidence-boosting performance and a goal but looked painfully short of self-belief and lost possession too often. It spoke volumes when Pochettino took the striker off with half an hour still to play at home against a Championship team.
MF Dele Alli, 7 -- Replaced Janssen on the hour-mark and brought some much-needed poise and quality to the side, helping Spurs to build pressure in the final third.
MF Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, 8 -- Came on with 20 minutes to go and immediately set up Davies' goal with a left-wing cross before slicing through the Villa defence and flashing the ball across the goalmouth. On this evidence the young winger deserves more opportunities.
MF Josh Onomah, N/A -- Replaced Sissoko six minutes from time when the game was already won. The 19-year-old would have hoped for more time on the pitch.
Ben is ESPN FC's Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.