Villa climbed from 14th to 9th, showing just how close this league is, after a rare win after coming from behind and an even more rare late winner gave the visitors only their third away win and a deserved 3 points. Awful defending from both sides in the first half led to an extremely open game and the home side opened the scoring after just 2 minutes when Robbie Keane was left all alone in the box to hammer home as Villa again failed to clear a corner with Ashley Young, the man on the post, not getting out the box quick enough to play the Irishman offside. Villa should have had an equaliser when Bent headed home at the back post from a clipped Downing ball. The striker was adjudged, wrongly, to have fouled Jacobsen and the goal was ruled out. The England man did get his goal though, after Noble dallied in the box and was dispossessed by Heskey, the ball made its way to Luke Young who crossed for Bent to glance a header from near post to far. Villa were by far the superior team in the second half and deserved an injury time winner from substitute Agbonlahor who headed home after great work from Young.
Ashley Young didn’t get out the box after Villa failed to clear a corner, allowing Keane to hammer home after 2 mins from Hitzlsperger’s header back into the box.
Minutes later West Ham defender Da Costa felled Bent in the box but the striker was offside, a common occurrence in the opening half.
Luke Young was called into action, blocking former Villa man Carlton Cole’s shot after he was put through by Keane, the former has been a thorn in the centre-backs side all game.
Ashley Young dribbled into the box from the left but his shot deflected wide after a great cross field pass from Bent. Dunne headed harmlessly over from the resulting corner.
Da Costa then picked up an early injury after a collision of legs with Bent and was replaced by Danny Gabbidon.
Brad Friedel was out well to deny Cole latching on to an Obinna through ball but minutes later was less certain and forced Richard Dunne into a risky challenge just outside the box. The Irishman was the last man and appeared to shove Cole but nothing was given. Fortunate.
Ashley Young fired straight at Green from range before Cole was in action again, too easily bringing the ball down from an O’Neil long ball, allowed to turn, and firing towards the near post, forcing a good stop from Friedel.
O’Neil then had a chance to shoot himself after Robbie Keane slipped him through, free in the box, but the midfielder opted to cross and it was way too heavy.
Bent then thought he’d equalised, heading home at the back post from a clipped Downing cross, but the striker was adjudged to have fouled Jacobsen by Mark Halsey. Poor decision, unlucky.
At the other end once again, Obinna fired in from an angle but drew an easy save from Friedel.
Ashley Young then crossed for Bent whose header was deflected wide with former Hammer James Collins heading well over from the corner.
Villa did get the equaliser there growing pressure deserved went Bent scored a glancing header from a Luke Young cross after Heskey had dispossessed Noble in the box.
O’Neil fired wide from the edge of the box after a scramble from the corner, another common problem for the visitors, on the brink of half-time.
Villa started the second half superbly and Petrov found Bent with a long ball but the striker was forced too close to Green by Gabbidon, who saved at his near post.
Ashley Young was fouled by Noble on the edge of the box and picked himself up to curl in a fantastic free-kick but Green makes a great save to tip it wide.
Bent turned and shot from the edge of the box and his effort deflected wide. Dunne, again headed over from corner.
Superb tackle from Reo-Coker on O’Neil as the midfielder pulls the trigger. O’Neil went off injured after the fair challenge, replaced by Demba Ba shortly after Hines had come on for Obinna.
Nice dummy by Young to leave for Bent saw the striker return the ball to Young but his shot was poor and flew high and wide.
A superb run by Walker after a Downing ball saw the full-back pull back for Bent but he flicks it with his toe after a good first touch and it went nowhere. Great chance.
Young then cut in from the left again and curls one a foot wide of the far post. Dunne then blocked well from Hines before Hitzlsperger volleyed way over.
Agbonlahor went on for Heskey before Hitzlsperger had another effort, this time dragging wide.
Reo-Coker had a rare drive at Green from outside the box which was comfortably saved and from the keepers kick, Cole at the other end nearly volleyed over Friedel after indecision from Richard Dunne over the high ball.
Collins then made a silly foul on Cole, pushing the front man in the back on edge of box but substitute Ba’s effort was tame and too close to Friedel.
Agbonlahor scored in injury time from a Young cross after great work on the right by the winger who was lively all game. Green had originally parried a great drive from Downing but Villa, deservedly on their second half performance, get all 3 points.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 7 – a couple of decent stops when called upon
Kyle Walker – 7 – much more assured and one great run deserved a finish from Bent
James Collins – 6 – slow start from the centre backs but little threat in the second half
Richard Dunne – 6 – fortunate at times but otherwise OK
Luke Young – 7 – best of the defence again, deserved assist
Stewart Downing – 7 – bright as ever, some nice runs and decent delivery
Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – solid tackling but poor passing on the day
Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – solid again, broke up play well
Ashley Young – 8 – lively all game, lots of shots and superb assist for the winner
Emile Heskey – 6 – looked off the pace but did well to win the ball for the first
Darren Bent – 7 – good goal, unlucky to have one disallowed but should have netted in the second
Gabby Agbonlahor – 7 – scored crucial winner
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