Aston Villa won 2-1 at Tottenham to condemn the North London team to its worst start to a Premier League soccer campaign.
Nigel Reo-Coker and Ashley Young scored for Villa at White Hart Lane last night before Darren Bent got a goal for the host with three minutes to go. The result kept Spurs in last place in the 20-team standings with one point from four games.
Spurs coach Juande Ramos's decision to leave Jermaine Jenas and David Bentley out of the starting lineup and hand Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka their debuts backfired.
"It didn't work," Spurs assistant coach Gus Poyet said in an interview with Setanta Sports. "The game became too open. I don't think it was the kind of game we were ready to play."
Villa took the lead after five minutes when Ashley Young fed Gabriel Agbonlahor, whose cross was converted by Reo-Coker from close range. Villa doubled its advantage after 54 minutes when Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes let Young's drive slip under his body and into the goal.
The home team made it 2-1 in the 87th minute when Jenas's volley ricocheted off Bent past Villa goalie Brad Friedel into the net.
The win lifted Villa eight places to fourth with seven points, three behind leaders Chelsea and Liverpool. Manager Martin O'Neill said it was too early in the season to consider his squad as capable of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the European Champions League.
"We are an attack-minded side, we can play some lovely football but there are still plenty of failings in our team that we're trying to cover up as best we possibly can," O'Neill told Setanta.
Both teams will play first-round matches in Europe's second-tier UEFA Cup in two days. Villa travels to Litex Lovech of Bulgaria, while Spurs host Poland's Wisla Krakow.
Newcastle's owner got message
Newcastle United's billionaire owner Mike Ashley put the Premier League soccer club up for sale yesterday, saying he had "got the message" following hostility from fans.
"I am now a dad who can't take his kids to a football game on a Saturday because I am advised that we would be assaulted," Ashley said in a statement. "Therefore, I am no longer prepared to subsidize Newcastle United."
Fans had protested against Ashley and the club's board after manager Kevin Keegan quit Sept. 4 following a dispute over player transfers. They demonstrated against Ashley and Director of Football Dennis Wise during the 2-1 home loss to Hull City two days ago, with one banner reading "Cockney mafia out."
While Ashley hired Keegan, a fan favorite as a player and manager in previous stints at Newcastle, he set up a management structure that took responsibility for player recruitment away from the manager. Keegan disagreed with the sale of winger James Milner to Aston Villa last month and was upset that Ashley wanted to sell striker Michael Owen, according to U.K. media reports.
Ashley, the founder of sporting-goods retailer Sports Direct International Plc, paid 134 million pounds for the northeast England team in July 2007. He said he's spent about 250 million pounds on the club, which remains in debt and owes millions of pounds in transfer fees.
Dubai not buying soccer team
Dubai International Capital LLC said it's not involved in a renewed bid for Premier League soccer team Liverpool and denied talks with the team's American owners are taking place.
"DIC can confirm that it is not involved in any negotiations to buy LFC and is not planning a fresh bid for LFC or any other football club," the United Arab Emirates-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.
Dubai International, which owns shares in HSBC Holdings Plc, Sony Corp. and the European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., has also been linked with a move to purchase Newcastle United, after its owner put the club up for sale yesterday.
West Ham loses shirt off back
West Ham United lost its shirt sponsor after the administrator for XL Leisure Group Plc cancelled the three-year contract.
The team will remove or cover the XL logo on the front of their jerseys for tomorrow's away match at U.K. Premier League soccer rival West Brom Albion, team spokesman Greg Demetriou said. Administrators took control of XL Leisure and terminated its deal with the Hammers.
"We contacted the club this morning to notify them that we are no longer carrying on with the sponsorship agreement," Suzanne Ivory, a spokeswoman for administrator Kroll said in an interview.
West Ham finished 10th in the 20-team league last season. The East London team had received 2.5 million pounds ($4.5 million) from a 7.5 million-pound, three-year deal it signed with the Crawley, England-based travel company in February 2007, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported on its Web site. The club released a statement on its Web site saying it decided to "immediately terminate their relationship with XL Holidays."
Combined wire sources