Aston Villa 3 Hull City 1 match report: Andreas Weimann goals keep Villa alive but still fearful
Weimann struck twice in four minutes to give Villa a lead they never looked like relinquishing
Saturday 03 May 2014
Normal service has been resumed; Aston Villa are staying up with something to spare. By a week and perhaps six points but the lap of appreciation around Villa Park at the end of this comfortable victory felt rather hollow as once again a club that claimed three successive top-six finishes at the end of the last decade did just enough to maintain their place in the Barclays Premier League.
Andreas Weimann scored twice at the end of the first half, after Jordan Bowery’s own goal negated Ashley Westwood’s first-minute opener, to earn Villa the breathing space they required after their last home game of the season. Barring Norwich City victories against Chelsea and Arsenal and a 17-goal swing, Villa can enter a critical summer with their status intact.
It helped that Hull City were at half-tempo before their FA Cup final in a fortnight, because while Paul Lambert’s team deserve credit for playing with enough zest to prevail after a run of one point from six games, needing to win away to Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur to stay up might have been a big ask.
“I’ve been involved in some big games,” the Villa manager said. “But the pressure on that one was incredible. If they can come through that, they can cope with anything in their careers. I thought we were fantastic.” Whether beating Hull City at home compares with helping Borussia Dortmund win a European Cup final, as Lambert did, is a moot point.
Perhaps inspired at Birmingham City’s last-gasp survival down in the Championship, Villa were out the traps before Hull could settle. Westwood scored after 55 seconds and, if Gabby Agbonlahor’s day was curtailed by the injury he sustained making the goal, it was a worthwhile sacrifice.
The former England striker flew down the left, bundled Curtis Davies aside and evaded Tom Huddlestone before pulling the ball back intelligently towards Marc Albrighton. The winger made amends for his initial airshot by toe-poking the ball to Westwood who swerved home a shot from the edge of the box.
Agbonlahor’s replacement Bowery had an impact that threatened to turn the game. Unable to stretch a leg to divert Weimann’s cross shot shortly after he came on, he inadvertently scored at the wrong end five minutes later, deflecting in Liam Rosenior’s cross shot after Huddlestone’s free-kick.
Brad Guzan had to dive acrobatically to tip aside a fulminating left-footed shot from Huddlestone, but then Weimann, a shadow of the player he was last season, changed the game. After a marvellous dribble ended with a fine save from Steve Harper, he had a header tipped over before scoring.
Nathan Baker had one header cleared off the line by Nikica Jelavic, Harper tipped his follow-up effort onto the bar but there was Weimann (left) to head in for 2-1. Then in first-half stoppage time he sealed the game. Bowery crossed towards the near post where Weimann headed in his fifth league goal of the season.
In the second half Villa enjoyed a stroll in the sun and Hull looked forward to Wembley. As long, that is, as they don’t lose both games this week and Norwich win twice.
Lambert has no idea if Randy Lerner will sell the club this summer. “The chairman’s going to make a statement in a few weeks,” he said. “I can’t say what he’s going to say.”
Aston Villa (3-4-1-2): Guzan; Vlaar, Baker, Clark; Lowton, Westwood, Delph, Bertrand; Albrighton (El Ahmadi, 76); Weimann (Bacuna, 81), Agbonlahor (Bowery, 23).
Hull (3-5-2): Harper; Davis, Chester, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler (Quinn, h-t), Rosenior; Long, Jelavic (Sagbo, 70).
Referee: Mike Dean.
Man of the match: Weimann (Villa)
Match rating: 5/10
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