Harry Kane got straight into the groove with two late goals as Tottenham Hotspur recovered from an early setback to beat promoted Aston Villa 3-1 at home on Saturday.
Villa, back in the top flight after three seasons away, looked set to mark their return in style as they hung on tenaciously to John McGinn’s ninth-minute opener.
But Tottenham’s record signing Tanguy Ndombele fired home a debut goal in the 73rd minute to break Villa’s resistance.
With Villa visibly tiring captain Jack Grealish conceded possession on the edge of his area in the 86th minute and when the ball fell to Kane he made no mistake.
Kane rubbed salt into Villa’s wounds with a classy finish in the 90th minute as Tottenham, playing their first opening fixture at home for eight seasons, took the points.
Spurs had dominated possession but it was only when playmaker Christian Eriksen, who could still be on the move before the transfer windows close in Spain, Italy and Germany, replaced Harry Winks did Villa really start to creak.
“We came out in the second half with a high tempo, pressed well,” Kane said. “When Tanguy (Ndombele) got his goal it was full throttle until the end.
“Thankfully, a couple of chances fell to me.”
Villa signed 12 players for a total of 130 million pounds ($156 million) in the transfer window as they seek to establish themselves back with elite. But it was Scottish striker McGinn, a regular in last season’s side who were promoted via the playoffs, who sparked delirium in the away end.
Latching on to a long ball by Tyrone Mings, he calmly fired past Hugo Lloris as covering defender Danny Rose slipped.
Tottenham huffed and puffed and were far too slow in possession as Villa coped admirably before the break.
Kane headed over just before the interval but Tottenham’s frustration was clear as they trudged off at halftime.
Tottenham laid siege to the Villa goal and the equaliser finally arrived in the 73rd minute.
Villa keeper Tom Heaton made a great save to deny Davinson Sanchez but when the ball was fed back to Ndombele by Lucas Moura he picked out the corner of the goal.
Eriksenn tested Heaton with a free kick but Villa could not get out of their own area. Grealish was caught in possession by Erik Lamela and the Argentine’s scuffed shot fell kindly for Kane who made no mistake.
Sissoko then found Kane who beat Heaton with a clinical finish.
“It was a difficult first half,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “The first 45 minutes wasn’t the best. But in the second half we started to create more chances, but it was still difficult because they defended so deep.”
Despite the dejection at the end, Villa will take heart from their display.
“When you keep giving it away and have to chase it become a hard game,” Villa boss Smith said. “We got a dream start but there is no doubt the better team won on the day.”