Nathan nets late in vital Villa victory

18 April 2010 06:17
Substitute Nathan Delfouneso scored with his first touch to keep Aston Villa's European hopes alive with a 2-1 win at Portsmouth on Sunday.[LNB] David James saved John Carew's penalty before the break at Fratton Park after the Norwegian had restored parity following Michael Brown's early opener for the hosts.[LNB]The game looked to be heading towards stalemate but Delfouneso tapped home Emile Heskey's flick on to move Villa above Liverpool into sixth place in the Premier League.[LNB]Avram Grant decided to hand 18-year-old Leonard Sowah his first Premier League start in a Pompey team that contained six changes from Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Wigan.[LNB]That meant Sowah became the first player who was born after the Premier League was established to start a top-flight game.[LNB]James, Aaron Mokoena, Hassan Yebda, Kanu and FA Cup semi-final hero Kevin Prince Boateng also came in but striker Frederic Piquionne did not make the match-day squad.[LNB]Villa boss Martin O'Neill opted to stick with the same team that drew 2-2 with Everton on Wednesday.[LNB]Both sides went into the game having suffered differing fortunes in their respective games at Wembley last weekend.[LNB]Villa crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 defeat against Chelsea while Pompey pulled off a surprise win over Champions League-chasers Tottenham Hotspur.[LNB]O'Neill still harboured hopes of European qualification via the league though - and he knew a win would lift the Midlanders above Liverpool.[LNB]Pompey's first chance came four minutes in, when Brad Friedel spilled a John Utaka cross, the ball fell to Kanu but the Nigerian's shot was blocked by James Collins.[LNB]Fratton Park went into uproar in the ninth minute when Anthony Vanden Borre raced down the right, out-muscled Stephen Warnock, and laid the ball off to Michael Brown who carefully placed the ball past Friedel to put Pompey 1-0 up.[LNB]James then reacted well to deny Stewart Downing and Carew but the Norwegian beat the England stopper minutes later to draw Pompey level soon after.[LNB]Marc Wilson's attempts play Carew offside from Warnock's through-ball failed miserably and the Villa striker raced through before cutting back across the defender to beat James.[LNB]Wilson then almost put the ball into his own net to make it 2-1 to Villa but his deflected clearance rebounded off a post.[LNB]The near capacity crowd were being entertained by some end to end football as both sides looked to take the advantage.[LNB]Gabriel Agbonlahor thought he should have been awarded a penalty when he appeared to be dragged down by Vanden Borre in the box but referee Lee Probert waved away his protests.[LNB]Papa Bouba Diop then gifted Villa a spot kick by bringing down Carew after losing possession inside his own box.[LNB]The Norwegian chose to power his drive down the middle but James saved to deny Villa the lead.[LNB]Villa came out of the blocks quickest in the second half, with Young proving the main threat.[LNB]The 24-year-old burst down the right for the visitors but young Sowah showed maturity beyond his years to stifle the quick winger's mazy run five minutes into the second period.[LNB]James Milner then beat two Pompey defenders before seeing his 25-yard strike comfortably saved by former Villa goalkeeper James.[LNB]Young then switched to the left flank where he crossed for Agbonlahor, but James was there again to stop the striker's header from five yards.[LNB]Villa thought they should have had a second penalty when James appeared to pull down captain Stiliyan Petrov in the box.[LNB]O'Neill threw on Delfouneso for Agbonlahor and that proved to be a masterstroke as he put Villa ahead with his first touch of the game.[LNB]Milner crossed for Heskey, who headed the ball on before his fellow substitute tapped home from five yards to pick up his first league goal with eight minutes left.[LNB]Portsmouth pushed for an equaliser but Friedel saved their best effort from Ward at the death and O'Neill ended the game with a vital win.

Source: Team_Talk