Old faces haunt O'Leary

The Republic of Ireland striker was summoned from the bench with a quarter of the game remaining and soon made an impact, nipped in front of Gareth Barry, adroitly rolling the ball forward and prodding a shot into the far corner of Thomas Sørenson’s net. By that time there were just 12 minutes remaining and I was especially painful for Villa who had led for most of the encounter following a blistering fourth-minute strike from a one-time colleague of Keane’s at Elland Road, James Milner.

"Robbie was brilliant when he came on," said Jermaine Jenas. "A lot of players of his calibre probably would not accept sitting on the bench but his attitude has been brilliant. He breathed a lot of life into a lot of players, he really wanted to score and he showed that in the celebration." The 25-year-old forward spent more time on the substitutes' bench than any other Tottenham player last season and the early signs are that he can expect more of the same this campaign.

"If you're not scoring when Robbie's playing then everyone tells me Jermaine Defoe should be playing," the Tottenham manager said. "Then you try to be stubborn and play them both and teams pressurise you [because] goalkicks from [Paul] Robinson keep coming back to you." The Spurs keeper was also at his obdurate best to make it a frustrating day all-round for O'Leary. "And they call themselves friends," said the Villa boss, who revealed that Gavin McCann will be out for six to eight weeks following knee surgery.


Twice he thwarted Juan Pablo Angel on the stroke of half time, having earlier denied Patrik Berger and Milan Baroš as Villa sought to banish the memory of last Monday's 4-0 drubbing at Upton Park. But Keane made sure there was no such result and Sørenson was blunt in his assessment of what happened: "You can't give him that much space. He'll punish you."

The Villa keeper had earlier enhanced his reputation as a spot-kick specialist when he turned away Defoe's penalty after Wilfred Bouma had handled. He has now saved eleven of the last 15 penalties he has faced, though the Denmark custodian preferred to talk about Robinson. "He proved he is a match winner because he kept them in it for a long time," said Sørenson. "They got one point in the end and that's down to him."