Agbonlahor strike seals Villa victory over Fulham

Aston Villa 2 Fulham 0

Gabriel Agbonlahor helped Aston Villa bounce back from their European exit as they easily disposed of Fulham to register their first home Barclays Premier League win of the campaign.

The England striker's pressure forced Fulham defender John Pantsil to head into his own net for the opening goal after three minutes.

Then Agbonlahor struck the decisive second goal 14 minutes into the second period - his first of the season - to wrap up the points for Martin O'Neill's side.

It was the perfect pick-up for Villa after failing to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League after being beaten on away goals by Rapid Vienna.

The Cottagers struggled to cope with the pace of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young plus the accurate passing of James Milner while Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell offered good support from midfield.

Villa's territorial dominance was such that goalkeeper Brad Friedel was a virtual spectator for the entire 90 minutes and 19-year-old central defender Ciaran Clark was able to make an assured debut.

Fulham looked pedestrian and lethargic after their own European exertions against Amkar Perm in Russia in mid-week and they missed the industry of injured midfielder Danny Murphy and front duo Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora.

Villa needed only three minutes to break the deadlock but they were given a helping hand by their former defender Aaron Hughes and Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer in setting up the goal.

Hughes sent a careless back pass towards Schwarzer who could only slice the ball out of play for a corner.

Young's corner was flicked on by Carlos Cuellar and Cottagers defender Pantsil could only head the ball into his own net at the near post when under immense pressure from Agbonlahor.

Fulham were knocked out of their stride by this early setback and Sidwell was only just too high with a curling effort after Agbonlahor had turned a dangerous ball from Nicky Shorey into his path.

Villa were finding plenty of space down their left flank with Agbonlahor and Young looking to put Hughes and Pantsil under pressure.

Shorey's through ball picked out the run of Agbonlahor and his low dangerous cross was turned away by Paul Konchesky at full stretch.

Sidwell then got on the end of a Young free-kick but directed his header wide and then Clark missed a good chance to mark his debut with a goal after 24 minutes. The England Under-19 international was unmarked when he got on the end of a Young corner but sent his header over the bar.

Fulham midfielder Dickson Etuhu was relieved in trying to clear a Young corner when his header bounced over his own crossbar.

Etuhu was guilty of a series of fouls and in the 39th minute became the first player to be yellow carded by referee Steve Bennett for bringing down Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov.

Then Fulham newcomer Jonathan Greening was also cautioned for chopping down Milner.

Schwarzer had a brief fitness test before play resumed and seemed to have a problem with his left thigh. There was a cagey opening to the second period although a fierce shot from Erik Nevland was blocked by Clark full in the face.

Dempsey was only just too high with a fierce 25 yard free-kick after Petrov had brought down Diomansy Kamara.

Milner showed positive intent but drilled his shot well wide from a narrow angle.

Then after 59 minutes Villa gave themselves a two goal cushion with Agbonlahor's splendid goal.

Milner played the ball inside to the England striker who bore down on the Fulham box before beating Schwarzer with a fierce 20 yard drive.

O'Neill brought on striker John Carew in place of the impressive Reo-Coker with 20 minutes remaining.

Sidwell picked up a late booking for a challenge on Dempsey.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable