Young's pace helps Villa bury Burnley in 12 mad minutes

Aston Villa 5 Burnley 2

It took them a while to warm up but, at the start of a busy week culminating in a Wembley final, Villa took advantage of a soft-centred opponent to reassert themselves as contenders for fourth place in the Premier League.

Burnley, looking increasingly vulnerable after only one win in 15 matches, took an early lead and were not flattered to finish the first half level. Unfortunately, they are a team prone to collapse spectacularly, as they did here in a calamitous 12 minutes early in the second half.

During that period of mayhem they let in four goals, transforming what had been an unconvincing Villa performance into a stroll. No one should pretend that Martin O'Neill's team are in rip-roaring form after only two wins in eight top-flight matches – and a paltry three goals in seven before yesterday – yet, as a vehicle for building confidence before they contest the Carling Cup with Manchester United, this result may prove invaluable.

Ashley Young's first Premier League goal since November, a shot that somehow found its way through a thicket of Burnley defenders, had put Villa level after Steven Fletcher's 11th-minute strike stunned the home crowd. But it was Stewart Downing, Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor who benefited most as Burnley folded in the face of Villa's counter-attacks.

With no answer to the pace and subtleties of man of the match Young and Downing on the flanks, or of Agbonlahor and James Milner through the middle, the visitors were simply stretched and then shredded.

Downing, with only one goal in 31 senior matches going into this one, albeit with a serious injury within that spell, now grabbed two in two minutes, collecting Young's diagonal left-to-right pass to drill home his first and picking up another with the help of a deflection off defender Daniel Fox.

The former Middlesbrough winger might have had a hat-trick in four minutes had Brian Jensen, the Burnley goalkeeper, not grasped his volley from a Young corner at the second attempt. But, after Agbonlahor raced down the left channel to set up a slide-in for Heskey barely 60 seconds later, Villa went 4-1 in front in any case. Agbonlahor himself made it five, finishing off a move contrived by Milner and Heskey.

"Apart from that crazy 12 minutes, I felt we could have taken something from the game," Brian Laws, the Burnley manager said. "But instead of shutting up shop after Villa scored their second goal, we opened up more doors and allowed them to trash the place."

Given that Burnley had not scored an away goal in the Premier League since September, they were quite possibly as surprised to find themselves in front as Villa were to concede when Fletcher scored after 10 minutes.

It was a nicely crafted goal, none the less, primed by a neat pass from Jack Cork, the 20-year-old midfielder on loan from Chelsea, and set up by David Nugent's square pass into the six-yard box.

Cork, on his full Premier League debut, delivered the cross from which Martin Paterson scored a second for the visitors in stoppage-time, although by then, of course, Villa were out of sight and O'Neill, mindful of fitting in an FA Cup replay against Crystal Palace on Wednesday before thoughts turn to Wembley, was taking the opportunity to give key players a rest.

"Taking people off looked a long way away at 1-0 down," O'Neill admitted. "We were sluggish. We didn't get into gear."

"But in that spell in the second half we were exciting to watch and the movement and ability to finish, which has not been our strongest point for some time, was very pleasing. It is good preparation for a big week."

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; A Young (Sidwell, 81), Milner, Petrov, Downing; Agbonlahor (Carew, 72), Heskey (Delfouneso, 76). Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), L Young, Delph, Beye.

Burnley (4-1-2-3): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox; Bikey; Cork, McDonald (Elliott, 63); Nugent (Nimani, 69), Fletcher (Paterson, 81), Eagles. Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Duff, Blake, Thompson.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Booked: Burnley Carlisle, Fletcher, Nimani.

Man of the Match: Young.

Attendance: 38,709.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week