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Villa Player Ratings - 2009 Peace Cup Final


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12.40am local time and Nicola Legrottaglie skies Juventus' final penalty-kick over the bar to hand a young Villa team the 2009 Peace Cup trophy and with it 2 million euro in prize money. An overall magnificent performance by the boys who faced a strong Juve team featuring Iaquinta, Buffon, Camoranesi, Giovinco and Chiellini among others.

I was lucky enough to catch the game on this marvellous thing called the world-wide-interweb, and so I thought i would give my opinions of the match ratings.

Brad Guzan - 9 - A faultless performance from our number 2 'keeper who I personally think could well become a goalie of Friedel's stature in a couple of years time. He is agile, commanding and a great handler of the ball. He didn't let a single corner/cross cause us any problems by instantly coming out and plucking the ball from mid-air and he made some excellent saves including a point-blank glove save from Zebina in the last minute of the first 90. Also saved 2 penalties, not by guessing right but by sheer reactions. Del Piero will not want to see his effort again, as Guzan psyched him out and stood firm to save the Italians tame kick down the middle.

Eric Lichaj - 8 - I was very impressed with our American import. Plenty of surging runs down the flank. It was obvious he and Albrighton have played together many times as they supported each other very well. He never gave up in tackling the opposition, even when on the ground he was frantically trying to get that ball out and it was a very mature performance, bar kicking Buffon in the chest when he had a good chance for a goal. To be fair to the Juve captain, he acknowledged there was no malice and patted him on the back for his determination.

Curtis Davies - 7 - An assured performance from Curtis. Handled Iaquinta pretty well and made a couple of important challenges in the last third. Nothing outstanding but did his job and did it well. He must feel like he's had 12 rounds with Mike Tyson though after his shoulder problems and then he even got a double-fisted punch to the back of the head from Bradley after a mix-up in communication meant Curtis headed the ball away just as our keeper went to fist it. Ouch. Davies' best performance of the tournament.

Carlos Cuellar - 8 - Again, an assured performance from our Spaniard who the American commentators on the channel I was watching wrongly described as a Spanish international - but, given he is getting better and better now he's playing in the heart of defence, it's only a matter of time before he gets at least a call-up. I have given him an extra point than Curtis purely because of his penalty in the shoot-out. Top corner, great kick.

Nicky Shorey - 7 - Nothing spectacular from Nicky, but he did nothing wrong either. Without Barry he could be O'Neill's preferred corner taker from the right-hand side as we know our manager prefers the in-swinger. If this is the case, he needs to work on that a little bit because his delivery was decent but not outstanding. He was replaced by Lowry on 74 minutes.

Marc Albrighton - 9 - *Man of the Match* - Excuse the pun, but this kid really does have an Albrighton future (sorry, couldn't help myself). He didn't stop running until the ref blew up at the end of extra time, his close-control of the ball was impeccable, he ran at the full-back and even a player like Chiellini had every reason to be cautious. Marc played like a winger way beyond his years and yet he still had the arrogance of youth to roll the ball back, side-step and generally make a fool of Juve's more established stars at times. Here is a player we need to watch, as he has been phenomenal all tournament. His crosses are always put into that danger area, he gets swerve on the ball and most importantly, he tracks back well. Boundless energy and a top performance.

Nigel Reo-Coker - 8 - A solid captain's performance from Nige. He bossed the park just in front of the backline well and even made a few surging runs forward to cause the opposition trouble. His finishing is appalling and that showed with a late chance that he scuffed, but he's not employed to score the goals, he's there to make them and stop them from going in. The latter of which he did superbly last night.

Steve Sidwell - 7 - Again, nothing spectacular from Stevie but he complimented Reo in the centre quite well and got forward whenever he could. A permanent replacement for Barry? I'm still not convinced, but he has the determination to get there and with a bit more awareness about him he could do it. Terrible penalty in the shootout though - straight over the bar.

Andreas Weimann - 6 - Played on the left of the park and wasn't really involved in the game. He wasn't helped by the fact that Albrighton was doing so well on the other flank. He linked up well with Young at times and although he didn't really do anything wrong, he didn't do anything particularly great either. Maybe 6 is a bit harsh. 6.5 then. Substituted on 74 minutes - replaced by Bannan.

Ashley Young - 8 - Played centre-forward for most of the game as MON opted for Weimann and Albrighton on the flanks. He did well, chasing down balls and causing the defenders a nightmare. He was energetic and gave a very mature performance. Dropped deep to pick up the ball well but just didn't quite have the understanding of Carew at times that Gabby clearly does have. He picked up the golden boot and best player award in the tournament too.

John Carew - 7 - Typically strong performance from JC creating havoc in the Juve box on corners and crosses, as they practically built a ladder to stop him getting the ball. Wasn't as accurate as he should have been, but he's still a threat and will only get sharper. Replaced by Herd at the start of Extra Time.

SUBS:

Shane Lowry - 7 - Confident, strong performance from the young lad, and coolly slid his penalty home as well.

Barry Bannan - 7 - Decent match when he came on 15 minutes from the end of the 90. Fizzed a shot just wide with his second touch from 22-odd yards and was generally lively. An exciting player for the future as we all know.

Chris Herd - 6 - Didn't have much time to do anything, but he did look confident on the ball striving at players. Only downer was he missed a tame penalty to Buffon's right, but he's only 20 and again looks a decent prospect.

The Ref - 0 - Why he blew up 4 minutes early I will never know. One can only assume his favourite Paella restaurant closed at 1am?

So overall, a great game, a great performance and to see all the kids getting a tickertape celebration lifting a cup resemblant of the Jules Rimet trophy made me proud and confident in the future of Aston Villa. After all, I think we all knew it would be Albrighton the night! (Again, so very sorry).

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My understanding on Lichaj was that he had represented Ireland at youth level due to Irish grandparent(s), hence why i put it in. That's at least what the commentators said, and being American, i assumed they knew what they were talking about considering Lichaj is one of them! I might be wrong though.

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Lichaj has not represented Ireland at youth level and he is of Polish descent. You might be getting confused with Lowry who has represented Ireland at all level except senior level.

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