Agbonlahor grabs late winner for Villa

Birmingham 0 Aston Villa 1

Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a late winner to settle a scrappy west Midlands derby against Birmingham at St Andrews.

Agbonlahor struck with six minutes remaining to lift Martin O'Neill's side into sixth place in the Barclays Premier League.

City had dominated the second period but failed to create anything of note to trouble Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel and they paid for their lacklustre display when Agbonlahor pounced to score from close-range.

Villa, with three debutants in defence, James Collins, Richard Dunne and Steven Warnock, coped easily with Birmingham's initial advances into their half.

It was the visitors who had the first real chance to get on the scoresheet in the seventh minute when Gabriel Agbonlahor slipped the ball to James Milner inside the penalty area.

But the Villa midfielder wanted too much time and his right-foot shot was well wide of Joe Hart's right-hand upright.

But City bounced back immediately and Villa were forced into some desperate defending as shots from Gary O'Connor and Sebastien Larsson were prevented from reaching their target.

There were plenty of fierce tackles in the opening exchanges but referee Howard Webb did well to keep things under control instead of resorting to a flurry yellow cards.

Both sides struggled to gain control in the midfield but the home side, boosted by the speed of James McFadden on the left and the work-rate of Larsson on the right, often had Villa on the back foot.

In the 21st minute though it was Villa's Milner again who squandered a great chance to put the visitors in front.

Agbonlahor's pace again proved too much for the City defence and when his low cross arrived into the penalty area, Milner's first-time effort scuffed off his boot and out of play.

City's first real opening arrived on the half-hour when a neat flick-on by O'Connor put Lee Bowyer in the clear.

The City midfielder tested Brad Friedel in the Villa goal with stinging right-foot drive that the American keeper did will to punch to safety.

Moments later a long range effort from Keith Fahey flashed just wide of Friedel's left-hand upright.

But anything City could muster, Villa were eager to match and within seconds Milner sent a 20-yard drive wide of the target at the opposite end.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between with Villa's new-look defence repelling City's advances comfortably.

Referee Webb did well to keep a yellow card inside his pocket when Larsson felled Ashley Young in the 40th minute.

But Villa almost made City pay seconds later when Young's cross was met at the far post by Milner.

But yet again the Villa's midfielder failed to get his shot on target even though he was completely unmarked at the far post.

Agbonlahor then headed wide of the target when Young sent over a cross from the right wing.

City replaced James McFadden with Lee Carsley at the start of the second-half.

In the 51st minute, Steve Sidwell was booked for bringing down Larsson in full flight.

Three minutes later substitute Carsley tested Friedel with a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area but the American keeper was equal to the task.

City were enjoying a long spell of possession but there was little end product.

Another shot from Carsley failed to trouble Friedel but it was a similar story at the opposite end with City's defence holding firm against Villa's sporadic forays into their half.

Agbonlahor sprinted towards the City rearguard in the 64th minute but he soon found himself in a blind alley as he ran out of steam and ideas.

Moments later the Villa striker found himself in the referee's notebook for a foul on Franck Queudrue.

Agbonlahor could have no complaints as he clearly shoved the City defender to the ground as he raced on to the ball.

The game was crying out for some quality on the ball but it was not supplied by Bowyer. The City midfielder tried his luck from 25-yards out but his effort was well wide of the target in the 67th minute.

But Villa were living dangerously. James Collins twice failed to clear his lines and then Milner was forced to foul Fahey as City applied more pressure.

But Larsson's resultant free-kick, although directed into the centre of the penalty area, failed to bring any success.

In the 77th minute Warnock's cross found Sidwell at the far post but his header was straight into the arms of City keeper Hart.

Three minutes later Milner sent a right-foot shot towards the bottom corner from 20-yards but Hart managed to dive low to his left to keep it out.

But the deadlock was finally broken in the 84th minute when Young's free-kick was nodded back by substitute John Carew for Agbonlahor to apply the necessary finish from close range.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform