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Player Match Ratings – Lions roar and maul Black Cats!


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Paulo Di Canio said of Villa Park before last night’s game “For me, it’s like going to the theatre or seeing Pavarotti when he was still alive. It’s an easy place to go”. Nessun dorma, Paulo? Vincerò! vincerò, vincerò! could very well have been Paul Lambert’s reply.        


Our first 6 goal haul in the league at Villa Park in 18 years when we hit 7 past Wimbledon and a second half hat-trick from our leading scorer made it a night to remember last night. The win was crucial and anything less could have proved too deflating to come back from. It is not over yet but it just could be if we can clinch another 3 points at the weekend.


Sunderland came to Villa Park on a high after two league wins but their bubble was well and truly burst last night. They started well and for the first 20 minutes had most of the possession but our opening goal set the stadium alight and not even an early equalizer could quench our hunger for the points because our heads did not go down and we went into the break a goal up with all to play for. The second half produced three more goals for us and the amazing 10 goal turnaround with Newcastle has left them behind us on goal difference as are Wigan who now trail us by five points. Jubilant Villa fans said “We want 7” near the end and Sunderland humorously responded with “We want 2”.


So Paulo with hindsight may perhaps wish he had not goaded the lions pre-match as we followed up our cup win at Swindon with a second win against a team he was leading in his own inimitable manner to claim 9 goals in two games against him this season. He stood pitch side with his suit getting wetter and wetter, listening to the terraces giving operatic renditions of their own aimed in his direction and seeing his team put to the sword and placed again in the relegation threatened pack that now sit on 37, 38 or 39 points with 3 games to go. But on the positive side Paulo did join our applause on 19 minutes and that shows he does have some respect for the battle our club captain is waging when up to then respect was not one of the things he could readily be accused of (other than showing a lack of it).           


My player ratings from a game that has left us probably just one win from safety given no team who were 5 points clear with 3 games to go have ever been relegated in Premier League history (although Wigan do have a game in hand) are:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Beaten by Rose for their nicely worked equalizer having little chance with that and came out to but failed to get anything on to a ball that Gardner brought down on his chest and fired across the goal on 7 minutes. Gratefully clutched the ball in the last minute of added time after Mandron had got above our defence to get a header on target from a corner to maintain our much improved goal difference and had taken no chance on 41 minutes that N’Diaye’s shot might creep in by claiming the ball near the foot of the post. Did well to speak to his defenders after we went ahead again and before the re-start to remind them that we did not want to concede another goal just after we had gone ahead.                                    


Matthew Lowton – 9 – An outstanding game and he really is beginning to look a bargain and a proper player. Showed terrific foresight when intercepting the ball in his own half in the build up to our so important second.    


Ron Vlaar – 8 – Rocket Ronnie hit a wonder goal to open the scoring on 31 minutes when he picked up a clearance from a Westwood shot just inside their half, moved purposefully forward and hit a powerful shot from 30 yards that beat Mignolet and was a touch reminiscent of Chris Nichol’s Cup Final goal out of nothing in 1977.               


Nathan Baker – 7 – Solid and spared Guzan’s blushes on 7 minutes when he turned Gardner’s ball over safely out for a corner.  


Joe Bennett - 7 – Did very well last night. I had some concerns about him coming up against Johnson before the game those proved to be unfounded.                      


Yacouba Sylla – 7 – Improved as the game wore on and was solid in the middle showing again that he can have a part in our future.


Fabian Delph – 7 – Played his part in securing the win demonstrating his willingness to work tirelessly again.        


Ashley Westwood – 8 – The best performer of our midfield three last night for me he was constantly making himself available.             


Gabriel Agbonlahor- 8 – You could see how much this meant to him with the hard running and commitment he gave in our shirt. Might have claimed a goal on 26 minutes when he played a nice one two with Benteke and then turned the ball past the keeper but inches wide of the post. His 87th minute goal gave him the reward that his performance deserved when he rounded the keeper and stroked the ball into the unprotected net after being put in by a slack Vaughan back pass.                 


Andreas Weimann – 8 – Andreas was unlucky not to score a second on 65 minutes when from a tight angle Benteke’s wayward shot fell to him inside the box and his shot was kept out by Mignolet and then Cuellar cleared his subsequent effort off the line. He also forced a save from the keeper on 85 minutes after Bent had played the ball back to him. He struck on 37 minutes when Lowton did so well to read a pass, intercept it move forward with pace and then play a sweet ball through to Andreas who controlled it well and hit his shot past the onrushing Mignolet and inside the far post for our second.             


Christian Benteke – 10 – MOTM – A hat-trick and his goals have proved so important to us in our fight for our Premier League lives. Gabby jinked his way past a couple of defenders on the edge of the box on 55 minutes before hitting a shot that took a deflection off Bardsley which Mignolet was only able to parry away into Christian’s path who stooped low to head the ball home. His second and our fourth came on the hour when he leapt like a salmon to power in a header at the far post from a Westwood corner. His third came on 72 minutes after Westwood had taken the ball off Cuellar and fed Gabby whose ball got an unlucky touch from the same ex-Villa defender that presented the ball to Benteke on the edge of the box who ran between two defenders and hit the ball into the net between Mignolet and his near post.                                   




Darren Bent – Replaced Benteke on 79 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating.



Stay up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain! 

John Lewis

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I really thought he could become a star gilbertoAVFC but like others before him and no doubt following him he and his agent put higher wages and sitting on a bench more often than not in front of playing games and developing as a player. He is not the first or last English or I would suggest Irish player to appear over-hyped but he still has time on his side to make things right if he has the will to do it.      

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Would like to see him at Villa IMO, think it he would do well. Wasted at City after a encouraging career at Boro, seemed to never of found his feet under MON, just proving MON has slightly lose it and can't do anything without a big budget behind him

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"Would like to see him at Villa IMO". I had thought the same pre-season Avflife but had expected he would take the opportunity his move away from Citeh would offer him to kick on again but he has not done so. Whether he would do so for us is now open to further question than it had been previously and I would guess Lambo would think long and hard before risking any money he may get for the next window on players who once looked good and to have the potential to get better but who have not maintained that level of performance or built upon it.       

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Nah. Johnson is a one-trick pony, Cut inside and shoot.  Bennett won that particular duel defensively and Johnson provided little to no cover when we were attacking. Benteke's performance was clinical but not outstanding - the player who was outstanding was Lowton who was head and shoulders above anyone else on the park. Intercepted, passed, ran, dribbled, tackled - what a talent.

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