BIRMINGHAM (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur emerged from the gloom of the past week to claim a morale-boosting 2-0 victory at Aston Villa and climb to sixth place in the Premier League on Sunday.
Carlos Vinicius's first league goal for the club, a 29th-minute tap-in, gave Tottenham a halftime lead and Harry Kane's penalty sealed the points for Jose Mourinho's side.
Tottenham's sixth successive away league win against Villa moved them above Everton and Liverpool with 48 points from 29 games, three behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
It was quite a turnaround for Tottenham who were heavily criticised for their performance in last weekend's north London derby defeat by Arsenal and castigated after crashing out of the Europa League with a 3-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
Villa, who were again without captain and playmaker Jack Grealish, started well but were unable to work Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who barely had a save to make.
They stay in 10th spot with 41 points.
Mourinho accused his team of not respecting their jobs after they allowed Zagreb to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit to knock them out of Europe, with keeper and captain Hugo Lloris describing the defeat as a disgrace.
So all eyes were on Tottenham to see whether they would react positively and after a tricky opening half an hour at Villa Park they did just that.
"We needed it massively, the last couple of games have not been good enough," Kane, who is now the Premier League's joint-top scorer this season with 17 goals, told Sky Sports.
"We knew we had to bounce back before the international break. We didn't want to go away with three losses, we knew we needed to win and the boys put in a great shift."
If Tottenham needed a fixture to get them back on the rails it was perhaps a clash with Villa who they had beaten 11 times in their previous 12 meetings in all competitions.
Likewise Villa probably thought Tottenham might be there for the taking after their troubled week but the north Londoners showed some character to bounce back.
Villa were the better side early on and Tottenham's defence, with Joe Rodon and Davinson Sanchez paired together in the centre for the first time, looked edgy.
But a mistake by Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez gave the visitors a helping hand. He came out of his area to meet Sergio Reguilon's long pass forward but his clearance was poor and Lucas Moura pounced before advancing to play a one-two with Kane and then crossing for the unmarked Vinicius to score.
Villa failed to register a shot on goal in the first half but finally created some chances in the second half with Rodon blocking a Trezeguet volley and then Anwar El Ghazi hitting the side-netting with an effort from distance.
Tottenham got the cushion they needed in the 68th-minute as Moura slid a ball in behind Villa's defence for Kane who suckered Matty Cash into an unnecessary foul.
Kane easily beat Martinez from the spot and Tottenham were able to enjoy the final 20 minutes with no alarms.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)