Season | 2009-10 |
Matchday | #50 |
League Game | #36 |
Premier League Match-week | #36 |
Manager Game | #188 |
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Premier League | Home | Birmingham City | Villa Park | 42,788 |
Manager | Martin O’Neill
KO | 12.00 |
Referee | Martin Atkinson |
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 1-0 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | LDWWW |
Scorers | James Milner | 83’ pen |
Assists | Gabby Agbonlahor | 83’ |
League Position | 5th | +1 |
Line Up |
GK Brad Friedel |
LB Stephen Warnock |
CB James Collins |
CB Carlos Cuéllar | BOOKED | 53' |
CB Richard Dunne |
M Stiliyan Petrov |
W Ashley Young |
W Stewart Downing |
W James Milner | GOAL | 83' |
CF John Carew | SUB OFF | 70' |
F Gabby Agbonlahor | ASSIST | 83' |
CF Emile Heskey for CF John Carew | 70’ |
Unused Substitutes |
RB Habib Beye
M Steve Sidwell
F Nathan Delfouneso
GK Brad Guzan
M Nigel Reo-Coker
RB Luke Young
Yellow | Carlos Cuéllar | 53’ |
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 28.48 |
Oldest Player | GK Brad Friedel | 38.96 |
Youngest Player | F Gabby Agbonlahor | 23.55 |
CB Curtis Davies |
M Fabian Delph |
Match Stats |
Possession F | 52
Possession A | 48
Shots F | 10
Shots A | 16
Shots on Target F | 6
Shots on Target A | 14
Corners F | 7
Corners A | 5
Fouls F | 12
Fouls A | 16
Sunday, 25 April 2010
*A hotly disputed late penalty from James Milner took Villa level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham after an entertaining midlands derby.*
Roger Johnson appeared to win the ball in a challenge with Gabriel Agbonlahor but referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot and Milner smashed it home.
Birmingham had largely the better of the chances but found Villa keeper Brad Friedel in unstoppable form.
Villa sealed their third win in a week, their sixth in a row against the Blues.
Apart from the fierce local rivalry, of which there was clear evidence in the build-up as the fans traded insults, both sides had plenty to play for in their 100th league meeting in the top flight.
Villa were keen to pursue their quest for the Champions League on the back of Tottenham losing and Manchester City gaining just a point on Saturday.
Birmingham, meanwhile, were seeking to establish their highest points tally in the Premier League, although their recent form - with no victories from their last seven matches and six defeats from their last seven away games - did not bode well for their chances.
However, instead of producing a dour defensive approach they showed admirable intent in a surprisingly open game and had the first genuine chance as Lee Bowyer slipped a pass through for Sebastian Larsson.
Friedel set the tone for the afternoon, however, pushing him wide, and from an acute angle on the left side of the area, Larsson sliced horribly off target with his left foot.
The Birmingham midfielder soon floored Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov with a fiercely struck free-kick that caught the Bulgarian flush on the forehead.
Villa pressed but the visitors continued to have their fair share of chances, Cameron Jerome through on goal and only denied by the advancing Friedel, who hacked clear.
With Birmingham looking comfortable there followed two chances in quick succession for Villa, but Joe Hart, under the scrutiny of England coach Fabio Capello and his goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence, proved equal to the challenge.
Carlos Cuellar squared to Petrov, whose measured low first-time shot from 25 yards was tipped away by Hart, and the Manchester City keeper, on-loan for the remainder of the season, was alert to beat out a stinging drive from Stewart Downing after he found space and drove through on goal.
Still the goalkeepers remained on top, Friedel keeping out a well-struck long-range effort from former Villa man Craig Gardner that bounced just in front of him, while at the other end a first-time shot from James Collins eight yards out was superbly tipped over by Hart.
Birmingham started the second half brightly and seemed certain to break the deadlock in a remarkable passage of play.
An astute pass from Barry Ferguson found Jerome through on goal but evergreen Friedel, 39 next month, rushed out to smother the shot bravely with his body.
James McFadden collected the loose ball but his shot deflected fractionally wide, then from the resulting corner Liam Ridgewell rose on the edge of the six-yard box but the former Villa defender’s header was booted off the line by Downing on the post.
The chances continued for Birmingham and Bowyer saw a low left-footed shot somehow kept out by the redoubtable Friedel.
Villa introduced Emile Heskey and the England striker found himself through on goal but as he tried to lift over Hart the ball brushed the keeper and drifted wide.
But then came the key moment of the afternoon, which left Birmingham bewildered and incensed.
As Agbonlahor surged down the left side of the area Johnson slid in to tackle him, sending the striker sprawling in the process.
Referee Atkinson concluded it was a foul, a decision that caused an even greater split between the rival clubs.
*Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill:*
“It’s a major victory for us.
“We hung in there all second half. We were second best for a good part of it, Birmingham were very strong in the second half.
“We had played midweek and the previous midweek as well but we hung in and it was a fantastic victory.
“Since the Chelsea debacle at Stamford Bridge (7-1 defeat) we’ve picked up 13 out of 15 points which shows you our staying power.
*Birmingham boss Alex McLeish:*
“I shook his (referee Atkinson’s) hand at the end as I always do with the refs and said: ‘you called it wrong, the big decision and you
didn’t get it right, I didn’t think you were up with the play to make that call.
“He clearly wasn’t up with the play. Because of Agbonlahor on the break it is difficult for referees to keep up but it wasn’t a clear-cut decision and you can’t give it if you’re not sure.
“A big crowd can make a big influence, you can hear 40,000 screaming and think ‘Oh that must have been a penalty, I’d better give that.’
“Mr Atkinson has got to hold his hands up.”
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Those who feared that Aston Villa’s challenge for fourth place had already expired were rewarded with signs of life yesterday. A full-blooded performance against local rivals Birmingham delivered the message in no uncertain terms that this side were by no means done yet, even if they did require a contentious penalty awarded late on by referee Martin Atkinson for Roger Johnson’s tackle on Gabriel Agbonlahor to get the job done.
James Milner calmly converted, meaning that no matter what happens in the final two weeks of the season, Villa’s place in the Europa League is secure. The real significance of this result, however, is that Villa are now fifth, one point above Manchester City, whom they play next, and behind fourth-placed Tottenham on goal difference alone.
Admittedly, both Tottenham and City have a game in hand, which will keep claret and blue feet well grounded, but as Martin O’Neill said: “It’s been a great week.”
For the watching Fabio Capello, this spectacle would have almost certainly cemented in his mind the necessity of taking Milner, yesterday named young player of the year, to South Africa. His eye, though, would really have been caught by Joe Hart. Without the Birmingham goalkeeper, the winning margin would have been far greater.
Not for nothing does Alex McLeish believe that Hart, on loan from Manchester City, has earned his side about 15 points this season. The goalkeeper, 23 last week, denied Stiliyan Petrov, Stewart Downing and James Collins with superb reflexes in the first half, and Emile Heskey in the second, deflecting the former Birmingham striker’s chip just wide and leaving O’Neill on his hands and knees in his technical area.
The Villa manager is known for his touchline antics, but this reaction was excessive even for him and it illustrated perfectly what was at stake. For Villa to consider themselves still in with a chance of the top four, they needed three points. Tottenham’s loss to Manchester United had given them an opportunity to close in, reflected by the decibel level inside Villa Park as supporters rocked in expectation of their sixth straight win in the Second City derby.
But Birmingham were playing a tight five-man midfield, leaving Cameron Jerome alone in the striker’s role, and restricting play. What is more, they almost took the lead on the half-hour when Brad Friedel rolled the ball out to Richard Dunne, whose attempt at nonchalance backfired when he missed the ball completely and left Sebastian Larsson in a shooting position.
The midfielder did not quite catch it right, but Friedel was still required to dive, just one of a number of excellent blocks. His efforts in stopping Lee Bowyer in the second half hinted at reflexes of a man half his age, and earned a special clap from his manager. It left McLeish to conclude: “Two years ago we looked like frightened rabbits. Today we were fantastic.”
So imagine their aggravation (and to judge by Steve Carr’s sign language at the final whistle, it was intense) when Agbonlahor sprinted into the area in the 81st minute and fell as Johnson slid in.
Television footage revealed that the defender got a touch on the ball, but without the benefit of a slow motion playback Atkinson signalled to the spot. “It was not a penalty in a million years,” said McLeish, while Johnson was apoplectic. “The decision regarding the penalty was a disgrace,” he said. “I thought the referee was a disgrace the whole game through.”
The heart goes out to Hart. He is one of the hardest workers in Birmingham’s squad — turning up early to training and analysing each contact he has in a match using video footage — and though Milner’s penalty was struck hard it was down the middle, and saveable.