London: Christian Benteke`s red card signalled a late Aston Villa collapse against Tottenham Hotspur as they slumped to a sixth consecutive Premier League defeat but manager Paul Lambert refused to blame him.
With the game becoming increasingly fractious, striker Benteke became involved with Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason and shoved him in the face after Mason appeared to push his head towards the big Belgian.
Hosts Villa were leading 1-0 at the time courtesy of Andreas Weimann`s early goal but Nacer Chadli equalised 10 minutes from the end before substitute Harry Kane`s deflected free kick condemned Villa to six straight league defeats for the first time since 1967.
They are now two points above the drop zone in 15th having previously made a bright start to the campaign.
Lambert felt Benteke`s hand in the face of Mason was harmless.
"You cannot condone what he did, but it is not like he threw a Mike Tyson punch," Lambert told the BBC.
"My daughter can punch harder.
"He was provoked. If you go back a frame in the video, you can see the lad puts his head into Christian`s face.
"I can understand what Christian`s done, even though I can`t condone it."
The striker will now serve a three-match ban for a straight red card, a big blow considering he had looked impressive.
"Christian Benteke was showing great form, Tottenham could not handle him and it is disappointing with the red card," Lambert added.