Olic demolishes weakened Villa
Hamburg 3 Aston Villa 1
Thursday 18 December 2008
Aston Villa surrendered their unbeaten away record in Europe this season as a severely weakened side were no match for the Hamburg strikers Ivica Olic and Mladen Petric in last night's Uefa Cup meeting here.
With qualification for the final 32 already assured, the Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, included only three of the starting line-up from the 4-2 weekend win over Bolton in defenders Carlos Cuellar and Luke Young and midfielder Steve Sidwell.
Villa, who had Sidwell sent off in the closing stages, had to play second fiddle to Martin Jol's side once Petric had opened the scoring to pave the way for a double blast from Olic before a late consolation from Nathan Delfouneso.
Five Villa players in Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Martin Laursen, Gareth Barry and James Milner had not even made the trip to Germany, with O'Neill focusing on the hectic festive programme.
The manager would have been wary of the threat Petric and Olic were likely to pose in their club's final game before the winter break. And the duo pulled the Villa centre-back pairing of Zat Knight and Cuellar, who looked particularly uncomfortable, all over the place with their movement and intelligent play.
It again raised questions over whether Villa have the strength in depth to sustain a challenge for a Champions League spot should any of their key performers have to be replaced in the coming weeks because of injury or suspension.
Hamburg (4-4-2): Rost; Boateng, Reinhardt, Mathijsen, Aogo; Trochowski (Ben-Hatira, 89), Jarolim, Benjamin, Jansen; Petric (Thiago Neves, 78), Olic (Guerrero, 70). Substitutes not used: Hesl, Demel, Pitroipa, Torun.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; L Young, Cuellar, Knight, Shorey; Gardner (Bannan, 60), Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Salifou; Harewood, Delfouneso. Substitutes not used: Friedel, Davies, Petrov, Clark, Herd, Lowry.
Referee: A Nikolayev (Russia).
*Portsmouth recorded a fine 3-0 win against Heerenveen at Fratton Park last night thanks to two goals from the England striker Peter Crouch and a late Hermann Hreidarsson effort. Pompey were already eliminated from Uefa Cup Group E.
Latest in Sport
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
CM Punk 'never ever ever' returning to WWE (so he probably will)
Tottenham and Arsenal in battle for Douglas Costa? Brazil forward opens up Shakhtar Donetsk exit possibility
Manchester United transfer news: Completed summer deals
James Rodriguez joins Real Madrid: World Cup top scorer completes £63m move
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains