Aston Villa 5 Burnley 2: match report
Aston Villa might not have yet lost in 2010, but they haven't won much either. Finally, Martin O'Neill's side remembered how they used to do it back in 2009, and when they did, it was really rather simple. Use the two twinkle-toes, Gabby Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, to prise open the opposition back four, and then bang in the goals. Five of them to be exact, two from Stewart Downing, and one each from Agbonlahor, Young and Emile Heskey. It means that Villa remain in contention in the race for fourth, but let's not get too excited. They do not come much easier than Burnley, who for all their sweat and tears have taken just one point from a possible 39 outside of Turf Moor. And while their performance on this occasion was bubbly and unmistakably designed to irritate their opponents from the off, they were exposed badly once Villa deigned it time to it on. But it all began so promisingly for Burnley, with their first away goal since November scored within ten minutes. Stiliyan Petrov had caught his ninth-minute drive badly, sending the ball spinning wide across the wet turf. Brian Jensen collected the ball and gave it a hefty whack downfield, where Nugent was waiting. The midfielder cut inside and found Fletcher, flirting with off-side, at the far post for the sort of tap-in that has been in vogue this weekend. Of course, it couldn't last. Young took a short corner with James Milner, collecting the ball back and pulling the trigger from outside the area. True, the ball whipped through Daniel Fox's legs, catching the defender's ankle on the way, but Jensen would have been beaten even if it had not. Next it was Young, using his head to take him in to space on the left, well clear of the Burnley defence. Looking up he found Downing, the winger taking a touch, which looked tactless until he drove the ball into the corner. It reminded Villa that pace is their best ally and with Burnley now pushing forward Agbonlahor sprung loose. His shot was straight at Jensen, but the deflection found its way to Downing, via Milner. Downing's shot took a deflection off the hapless Fox and into ended up in the corner. Time for Heskey to get in on the act. Agbonlahor surged free on the left yet again, and his cross was tucked into the corner by Heskey from six yards. Agbonlahor rounded things off with a similar finish from two yards, before Martin Patterson picked up a consolation in stoppage time.
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