London: Andre Villas-Bos` team leapfrogged Arsenal, West Brom and Everton to climb into the Champions League spots with Jermain Defoe also on target in the emphatic win at Villa Park.
Tottenham made it a Christmas to forget for Aston Villa as they condemned their hosts to a second defeat in four days with a 4-0 victory.
Spurs enjoyed large spells of pressure in the first half but were unable to break the Villa resolve; however a second half hat-trick from Gareth Bale and a Jermain Defoe strike punished some sloppy defending to seal all three points for Andre Villas-Boas’ side.
Villa made three changes to side that were battered by Chelsea as Eric Lichaj, Barry Bannan and Andreas Weimann were replaced by Joe Bennett, Karim El Ahmadi and Fabian Delph.
Spurs made two changes to their defence as Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker both dropped to the bench with William Gallas and Kyle Naughton taking their places in the starting line-up.
The visitors dominated the opening half and should have tested Brad Guzan more, but the American was only really stretched by a Gareth Bale strike in the 15th minute.
The Welshman’s effort looked to be heading for the top corner but Guzan managed to get his fingertips to it and turn the ball over the bar.
Emmanuel Adebayor had two good chances from two of Spurs’ 15 first-half corners but didn’t get any power in either of his efforts.
Two changes from Lambert just before and during half-time brought Villa to life as Stephen Ireland and Marc Albrighton gave the hosts much more of an attacking threat.
And it was Albrighton who caused trouble almost immediately after coming on but his crosses into the penalty area were easily dealt with Hugo Lloris.
Despite Villa’s improvements they were punished just before the hour as Naughton superbly found Defoe inside the penalty area, and the England striker made no mistake by poking the ball through the legs of Guzan for his 14th goal of the season.
The visitors doubled their lead minutes later as they punished some sloppy attacking from Villa with a devastating counterattack.
Benteke’s cross was intercepted and cleared by the Spurs defence, Ciaran Clark failed to control the long ball and Defoe touched the ball away from Bennett’s challenge for Bale to race clear.
Once inside the penalty area he danced around Guzan and simply tapped the ball into the open goal.
The points were sealed in the 73rd minute as Bale added his second and Spurs’ third with an easy finish into the bottom corner, giving Guzan no chance.
Lennon jinked along the edge of the penalty area, spotted Bale and rolled a perfect pass into him and the Welshman fired into the bottom corner.
Bale completed his hat-trick in the 84th minute as another lovely passing move released Gylfi Sigurdsson inside the penalty area and he rolled the ball back to Bale. The winger couldn’t miss from eight yards out.