The Tottenham Hotspur defender found that all his stars were in alignment when Jermain Defoe took a touch to control a Gareth Bale corner and strike for goal. The shot was travelling wide only for it to deflect off the unwitting Caulker, fizz inside the near corner and spark Tottenham to their fourth Premier League win in succession.
Caulker, who is often referred to as the future of Tottenham, had only previously scored two goals, both of which came during a loan spell at Bristol City. His joy, however, meant frustration for Aston Villa, their manager Paul Lambert and, in particular, the striker Christian Benteke.
Lambert had omitted Darren Bent, again, from his starting lineup and persisted with Benteke but the Belgium international missed a header in the 51st minute that Bent, the former Tottenham player, would surely have fancied himself to score. To dredge a ghost from Bent's closet, Harry Redknapp's missus would have buried it.
Caulker's goal fortified Tottenham and they emerged as comfortable victors, with Aaron Lennon punishing loose defending from Joe Bennett to lash home the second. Bennett's day would get worse as he suffered a grisly-looking injury to depart on a stretcher. With Lambert having used his substitutes, Villa played the final 12 minutes with 10 men.
They only narrowly avoided a more comprehensive defeat with Clint Dempsey missing a gilt-edged header and Gareth Bale seeing a shot touched onto the far post and away by Brad Guzan. Villa remain wildly unpredictable.
Lambert was the last visiting manager to win at White Hart Lane – with his previous club, Norwich City, in April – and he set up with a new-look formation that featured Benteke as a single spearhead and cover on the flanks.
The respect was clear. Lambert was correct to be wary of Tottenham's threat in wide areas, whether from the wingers or the attack-minded full-backs. Jan Vertonghen might be a centre-half by trade but he is proving to be some stand-in left-back; his stride is elegant, his crosses menacing.
Tottenham made inroads at the outset up the flanks with Bale, as ever, to the fore. He blotted his copybook with a theatrical tumble under a challenge from Guzan, the goalkeeper having raced from his area, but he was otherwise quick and direct. The travelling support were unimpressed at what they considered to a dive by Bale and they jeered him thereafter.
Bale flashed a shot past the far post in the first minute, while he quickened the pulses in a generally flat first half with trademark bursts.
One of his whipped set-piece deliveries was almost turned home by Vertonghen who, himself, had crossed for Defoe to convert, only for the striker to be ruled offside. Defoe's spin-and-shoot trick brought no joy in the first half.
Villa drew the sting from Tottenham's slick opening, the atmosphere becoming increasingly subdued as the half wore on. The visitors were committed defensively in the first-half, with the captain, Ron Vlaar, making a number of important interventions.
It had been a big call from Lambert to omit Bent, given the striker's goalscoring heroics the previous weekend against West Bromwich Albion – and, in his absence, the spotlight picked out Benteke.
The striker's first chance came on 22 minutes, when he unloaded a swerving shot that Hugo Lloris beat clear. Lloris had been the other pre-match selection talking point, his surprise elevation putting to an end Brad Friedel's sequence of 310 consecutive Premier League appearances. It was easy to imagine Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, who parted with a fee that could rise to £13m for Lloris in August, having politely asked André Villas-Boas why the France No1 had not been in the team.
Lloris was solid, leaving his line on occasion, having read the situation correctly, notably when Brett Holman slid a ball through for Gabby Agbonlahor in the 36th minute. He saved smartly from Benteke immediately after the interval, even if the striker might have got his shot further away from him.
Lloris erred badly, though, when his poorly directed throw found only Holman, who moved the ball to Mark Albrighton. The winger's cross was made for measure for the unmarked Benteke but his header was woefully off target. Lambert was contorted in frustration on the touchline.
Defoe thudded another shot wide – he could not mark his 30th birthday with the goal that he craved and he was angry upon his substitution – although he did play a major part in Caulker's breakthrough. Lambert's afternoon was epitomised when he made a double substitution, that included the introduction of Bent and, less than 60 seconds later, Lennon had made the game safe.
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image: © Shiraz Chakera