Aston Villa vs Bournemouth match report: Carles Gil's strike and new contract for Fabian Delph brings joy to Paul Lambert

Aston Villa 2 Bournemouth 1

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The Independent Football

On a weekend of surprises, here was another: two goals for Aston Villa. Given that they had scored only one in 11 hours and three minutes of football before new  signing Carles Gil announced himself with a beauty after 51 minutes on Sunday, to grab another within 20 minutes would have felt almost too good to be true to Villa’s suffering fans.

It capped a day of celebration for their manager Paul Lambert, who has not had too many of those lately. 

Moments before the kick-off, after continuing speculation that Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur were about to redefine his career, Villa were able to announce on the stadium’s big screens that England midfielder Fabian Delph had signed a four-and-a-half year contract to remain at the club.

Lambert was almost as thrilled with that piece of news as with what happened on the field. “I’m sure not many people saw that coming,” he said. “It’s brilliant for this football club. It puts everything to bed.

“He has his future in front of him and for him to be staying is great news because it would take millions of pounds to replace him. He will be a big driving force for this club over the next few years.”

Asked to speculate on Delph’s value, Lambert suggested £15m as a conservative estimate. “We would not be in a position to do business like that at this moment,” he said.

On the field, Delph’s absence with an Achilles injury in one of six changes made by Lambert did not hamper Villa – at least not once the deadlock had been broken and a lively, well-organised  performance by Bournemouth, the Championship leaders, had been undermined by Gil’s superb technique early in the second half.

Weimann (right) celebrates scoring Villa's second

As Lambert had predicted, the 22-year-old Spanish midfielder, signed for £3.2m from Valencia 10 days ago, provided some new creative input, showing plenty of energy and a willingness to have the ball at his feet as one of three behind striker Christian Benteke. In the absence of the injured Gabby Agbonlahor, the Belgian front man needed some meaningful support.

Gil, making his full debut after taking in half the Premier League match against Liverpool, had a sight of Lee Camp’s goal after 14 minutes when veteran defender Ian Harte only half cleared Kieran Richardson’s cross.  Like Andreas Weimann twice, however, as Villa sought to establish an early advantage, Gil was wide of the target, but at least it was promise.

Boos rang around Villa Park as the half-time whistle shrilled and the dissenters had a point. Villa, who have scored only 11 Premier League goals all season, had still been colourless for the most part, ripe for embarrassment by a Bournemouth team who were playing with the confidence to inflict it, even with eight changes made by manager Eddie Howe.

Yet, in the face of grim expectations, it was Villa who found something extra – and something special too in the shape of Gil’s first goal for the club. Fed by Leandro Bacuna’s pass to the right flank,  Gil advanced to the edge of the Bournemouth box, then cut inside, onto his left foot, before curling the ball beautifully into the top left-hand corner.

For Lambert, in particular, it was a moment to savour.  “It was a world-class finish,” he said. “It showed a real talent.”  The manager will need a few more from his new man, though, and in the Premier League, before his critics cut him some slack.


The second goal was not a bad one either. As with the first, Bacuna launched an attack along the right, this time advanced by Alan Hutton’s overlapping run. The Scot pulled back a low cross into the box and Weimann met it with a precise, side-foot finish to effectively end Bournemouth’s resistance.

Callum Wilson came off the bench to score his 15th goal of the season for the visitors in stoppage time but by then it would never be more than a consolation.

“It is disappointing to go out because we’d gone toe to toe with a Premier League team and the difference really was two goals of the highest quality,” lamented Howe.

He defended his team selection: “A lot is made of changes in the Cup but this is the same side that beat Rotherham 5-1, the same side that knocked West Bromwich Albion out of the League Cup and gave  Liverpool a run for their money. There is little  difference in quality between this XI and the rest of my squad.”

Indeed, in a first half in which Bournemouth looked the more likely to score, with Richardson required to clear off the Villa line from Shaun MacDonald and Eunan O’Kane drawing a fine save from Shay Given, there was little difference between their quality and the home side’s, which can be taken as good for their promotion prospects. What it says about Villa is another matter.