Villa home drought over as last-gasp Weimann fells Fulham
Aston Villa 1 Fulham 0
Sunday 11 March 2012
Goal of the month it certainly wasn't. It wouldn't be in the top 10 for any Premier League goal of the day competition on more prolific afternoons but Andreas Weimann's bizarre winner – scrambled in from a position on all fours two minutes into stoppage-time – will do nicely for Aston Villa.
Just as the club's winless home run was about to become their longest since 1921, up popped the Austrian to mark his latest outing from the substitutes' bench with his first appearance on the Premier League scoresheet.
In keeping with Villa's long and patient wait for a breakthrough, the ball took an age to go in as Mark Schwarzer beat out first Gary Gardner's right-foot 20-yarder and then a header from the in-rushing Weimann. But the 20-year-old, whose only previous senior goals in England had come on loan at Watford last season, bundled home the second rebound from two yards.
Not only was Villa's first home victory since Bonfire Night a cause of huge relief. There was also considerable irony.
The big moment was fashioned and executed by their three substitutes but the mood of almost season-long Villa Park dissatisfaction threatened to become truly fractious when Weimann was sent on for Charles N'Zogbia in the 71st minute. "You don't know what you're doing," chanted the Holte End at Alex McLeish. The anger was directed at the departure of the Frenchman rather than the arrival of his replacement but the manager was proved correct.
"The fans see a forward coming off [and complain] but Andreas is a goalscorer," said McLeish. "He was a certainty to go on. I discussed that with my coaches. We played some great football but we needed to be clinical and took too long to score."
Fulham, for all their recent enterprise, remain unconvincing on the road. They didn't play like a team who had won three games in a row – Villa didn't let them in the first half – and took over half an hour to produce their first goal attempt, a token effort from Andrew Johnson easily gathered by Shay Given.
However, they improved substantially after half-time with Damien Duff hitting the outside of the post with a left-foot shot from 15 yards and John Arne Riise volleying narrowly wide of the angle from distance.
With little sighting of Pavel Pogrebnyak, thanks largely to a lack of quality service before or after Danny Murphy's departure with a swollen black eye, Villa were dominant. Gabby Agbonlahor was denied by Schwarzer from the best of their early chances and a sprightly, upbeat performance also saw N'Zogbia slice wide.
As the tempo grew, Marc Albrighton struck the top of the bar from Alan Hutton's pull-back and, late on, Carlos Cuellar badly missed the target.
There was still time, though, for a player who has scored two hat-tricks in the reserves in recent weeks. He was the crucial difference and left Fulham's manager, Martin Jol, saying: "I thought we were the better side in the second half and should have had a 0-0."
Aston Villa (4-4-1-1): Given; Hutton, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Petrov, Herd, N'Zogbia; Ireland; Agbonlahor. Substitutes Weimann for N'Zogbia (71), Bannan for Herd (82), Gardner for Petrov (89).
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Murphy, Dembele, Dempsey; Johnson, Pogrebnyak. Substitutes Diarra for Murphy (HT), Ruiz for Johnson (67).
Referee Jonathan Moss.
Man of the match Ireland (Aston Villa).
Match rating 6/10.
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