Delfouneso keeps Villa dream alive
Portsmouth 1 Aston Villa 2
Monday 19 April 2010
One down, four to go. Aston Villa left it late, but they did exactly what manager Martin O'Neill wanted.
The exotically-named Nathan Delfouneso was the man to score the winner that put Villa back in the top six and in the European places. O'Neill had said before this fixture that if they were to stand any chance of getting into Europe – he's gone from "Champions League" just to "Europe" – they would have to win their five remaining games. Not that he has given up entirely on catching fourth place because, mathematically at least, they are still in with a shout.
"We will need all the available points if we want to finish in the top six. We have some difficult fixtures coming up – Hull away on Wednesday – but to give ourselves a chance we have to win all of our games," O'Neill said. "Everton are still there, Liverpool are obviously still there. The only thing we can do is win all our games."
Portsmouth's Michael Brown scored his side's first goal for five league matches nine minutes into the match – and it was well worth the wait. Defender-cum-winger Anthony Vanden Borre did excellently to claw the ball back from the byline, Kevin-Prince Boateng dummied the ball past him for Brown to half-volley home from 15 yards for his first of the season.
But it only took six minutes before John Carew brought the sides level, immediately after he had hit the post. The Norwegian ghosted in unmarked to collect Stephen Warnock's punt upfield, as Marc Wilson seemed more concerned with appealing for offside – he wasn't – before scoring from eight yards out.
But Boateng came close to restoring Portsmouth's lead on the half-hour mark, but his curling free-kick from just outside the box was kept out by a one-handed Brad Friedel save.
Aston Villa had a penalty shout waved away 10 minutes before half-time when Vanden Borre put down Agbonlahor with what would have been a decent judo move. But referee Lee Probert blew his whistle, waited a couple of seconds for dramatic effect – before awarding a free-kick to Portsmouth.
Then, two minutes later, an even stranger thing happened. Carew was tripped in the box by Papa Bouba Diop as he dribbled the ball away from goal and Probert awarded a penalty. Shame for the enormous striker that it was kept out by an excellent James save.
The goalkeeper was lucky to get away with taking Stiliyan Petrov down but he could do nothing about Birmingham-born Villa academy product Delfouneso's close-range shot with nine minutes left, as the 19-year-old substitute got on the end of Emile Heskey's flick into the box.
For Portsmouth manager Avram Grant, the game was an exercise in damage limitation, as he had only 10 first team players to choose from.
Frédéric Piquionne was stranded in France after the birth of his third child, which added to the massive list of Portsmouth absentees.
Portsmouth (4-5-1): James; Vanden Borre, Mokoena, Wilson, Sowah; Diop (Ritchie, 88), Yebda, Brown, Boateng (Ward, 80), Kanu (Smith 65); Utaka. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Pack, Ciftci.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Ashley Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing; Carew (Heskey, 72), Agbonlahor (Delfouneso, 80). Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Beye, Clark.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).
Man of the match: Agbonlahor.
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germay in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners will only consider 'astronomical offer' from Atletico Madrid for Santi Cazorla
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll