Van der Vaart double defeats Villa

LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Rafael Van der Vaart's roller-coaster week ended on a high on Saturday when he scored both goals as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League at White Hart Lane.

That took the Dutch midfielder's tally to three goals, one missed penalty, one red card and two unforgettable performances in four days, winning the admiration of manager Harry Redknapp and the realisation among Spurs fans that they have a new hero.

Redknapp told Sky Sports he was delighted at how quickly the 27-year-old, who played for Netherlands in this year's World Cup in South Africa, had made himself at home at White Hart Lane.

"He's come in and the crowd have taken to him. They like the way he plays - he's a 'Tottenham' player - he's a good footballer and he suits us fine," Redknapp said.

"He and Luka (Modric) and the other lads play well together - he is going to be a big hit I am sure."

Van der Vaart, who joined Spurs for eight million pounds from Real Madrid just before the transfer window closed last month, has now scored four times in three home appearances for the north London side.

The Dutchman's double on Saturday followed his adventures against Twente Enschede on Wednesday when he missed a penalty, scored and was sent off - all in the space of 20 minutes - in a 4-1 victory in the Champions League group stage.

After that game he told reporters: "I scored, I missed a penalty and I was sent off. It's a full house. I have never played in a game like this in my life."


Saturday's performance was rather more orthodox but he still had a major say in the outcome with his double.

The first goal was a header at the end of the first half and the second came after an audacious dummy, which left Villa defender Richard Dunne bamboozled, before he cracked the ball into the roof of the net.

He told Sky Sports: "It was really tough today and I was delighted when I made it 1-1 because it was a difficult match for us. But we've a strong team and I think we deserved to win."

He has also been tipped to become the next Dennis Bergkamp of the Premier League.

His compatriot became one of Arsenal's greatest players and West Ham United assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic, who played in the Netherlands when Van der Vaart was at Ajax Amsterdam and then coached him at SV Hamburg, enthused about him this week.

"I am sure Van der Vaart will catch fire in the Premier League. Just like Dennis Bergkamp he is brilliant at playing between midfield and attack," he was quoted as saying in the London Evening Standard.

Van der Vaart had a half-chance to complete a hat-trick near the end of Saturday's match but shot high before leaving the field to a standing ovation when he came off in the last minute.

After his exploits this week, it was the least he deserved.