Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert backs new signing Christian Benteke to have a 'big, big career'

 

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The Independent Football

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is backing his £7million summer signing, striker Christian Benteke, to have a “big, big career” after his goal-scoring debut in the 2-0 home win over Swansea.

Belgium international Benteke, who joined Villa from Genk on transfer deadline day, was introduced as a late substitute and quickly made his presence felt.

He unsettled the Swansea defence before pouncing on a mistake by Ashley Williams to add the second goal after the stunning opener from another newcomer in right-back Matthew Lowton.

It ensured a first Barclays Premier League win for Lambert since replacing Alex McLeish as Villa continued on from the promising performance in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Lambert said: "What people have to remember is that Benteke is in a very good national side, with a lot of talented players, and he is holding his own in that team.

"He is only 21 and, if he keeps progressing, he will have a big, big career, that's for sure.

"I thought he was unplayable, that last 20 minutes or so he came on, he deserved his goal, and could have had another one."

Of equal satisfaction to Lambert, was the performance of Lowton who was plucked from League One.

Lambert said: "You've got to give the lad a lot of credit because he's just come from Sheffield United.

"But since he's been here, he hasn't looked out of place one little bit.

"For someone who came from League One, he is doing not too bad!

"His goal was brilliant, a terrific strike, but I thought his general game against Swansea was brilliant."

What is beyond dispute is the complete change in atmosphere inside Villa Park compared to the negative vibes surrounding the McLeish era.

Lambert was an animated touch-line figure, reminiscent of the person he still calls "gaffer" in his former Celtic boss Martin O'Neill.

But he insists any frustration was not directed at his team's performance but at some of the harsh yellow cards branded by referee Lee Mason.

Lambert said: "When the crowd see a performance like that and people running around and putting a shift in, then it will lift them.

"The fans were great. They've had a lot of hurt. But, when you get this place going, it is a brilliant place.

"There is a long way to go. It will take time to get where we want but it's a start.

"The young and experienced lads have been brilliant and, against a really good Swansea side, we were worthy of the win.

"My only frustration was with some of the yellow cards because I didn't think some of them were justified."

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup was not too downcast about his side's first defeat of the season.

He said: "At this level, small details tip the balance between positive and negative.

"Their keeper (Brad Guzan) makes a great early save to deny a great strike from Nathan Dyer outside the box and five minutes later they score one of the goals of the day (from Lowton).

"Maybe in the first half we gave the ball away a little too easy but, when we played fast, we created some chances.

"We had three or four chances and then in the last 20 minutes we had to risk a little more, had to play with four or five very offensive players, and that gave them some space behind us.

"I always want to win, I hate to lose, but we know we will lose.

"It is important even in the games we are losing, that we will always be in the games and don't give them away, that we are always competitive and that was the case at Villa."

PA

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