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Aston Villa 2 Ipswich 1: Weimann saves the day as Villans come from behind

Aston Villa 2 Ipswich 1: Bent makes a big difference and puts his case to Lambert

By
Myles Hodgson

PUBLISHED:

16:54 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 5 January 2013

Darren Bent presented a strong case for further inclusion in Aston Villa's first-team squad after sparking a comeback that helped to secure the club's first home win since November.

The England striker has fallen out of favour with manager Paul Lambert following the arrival of Christian Benteke, who has already contributed nine goals in his first season in English football.

A recent hamstring injury has further restricted Bent's opportunities but, given a rare start, he played a crucial role in ensuring Villa progressed to the fourth round.

Magic of the cup: Aston Villa's Darren Bent with the club mascot

Magic of the Cup: Aston Villa's Darren Bent with the club mascot

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Given, Lichaj, Clark, Baker, Bennett, Albrighton (Weimann 43), Bannan, Delph, N'Zogbia (Ireland 70), Bowery (Agbonlahor 62), Bent. Subs not used: Guzan, Benteke, Stevens, Carruthers.

Scorers: Bent 46, Weimann 83.

Ipswich: Loach, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Smith, Cresswell, Martin, Reo-Coker, Hyam, Emmanuel-Thomas (McGoldrick 60), Chopra (Mclean 74), Murphy (Edwards 70). Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Chambers, N'Daw, Whight.

Yellow cards: Kisnorbo, Hyam.

Scorer Chopra 31.

Attendance: 24,854.

Referee: Jon Moss.

His clinical finish from Charles
N'Zogbia's pass cancelled out Michael Chopra's opening goal before
Andreas Weimann scored a late winner to claim Villa's first home victory
since beating Reading on November 27.

'That was Darren Bent down to a T. I thought his game was very, very good,' said Lambert.

'His whole work ethic and the way he
played was good, his finishing was top class and I thought his whole
general game was really good, considering he only really trained with us
for the first time yesterday, so it was a big effort from him.'

Bent was one of seven changes to
Villa's starting line-up as Lambert rested players ahead of Tuesday's
Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Bradford and next Saturday's
crucial home game against relegation rivals Southampton.

Bent provided enough evidence to suggest he has unfinished business with Villa.

In with a shout: Michael Chopra of Ipswich celebrates the opening goal

In with a shout: Michael Chopra of Ipswich celebrates the opening goal

He provided the two chances during a
scrappy first half – whipping a cross past Jordan Bowery and then
heading his strike partner clear, only for the low shot to be saved by
goalkeeper Scott Loach.

That 30th-minute save proved pivotal, with Ipswich striker Chopra breaking to turn defender Nathan Baker.

out of reach: Ipswich keeper Scott Loach can't reach Andreas Weimann's strike for Aston Villa

out of reach: Ipswich keeper Scott Loach can't reach Andreas Weimann's strike for Aston Villa

What a relief: Aston Villa keeper Shay Given celebrates his side's winner

What a relief: Aston Villa keeper Shay Given celebrates his side's winner

His low shot was bundled into the net
off Eric Lichaj's legs. But Bent equalised in the first minute after
the restart as N'Zogbia threaded the pass through.

'The goal after half-time changed
the game,' said Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy. 'We handled them in the
first half but Bent's goal changed things.'

The equaliser gave Villa fresh
impetus and Weimann, brought on before half-time after Mark Albrighton
suffered a foot injury, continued his rich vein of scoring form with his
seventh of the season.

Oh dear: Bolton players celebrate Eric Lichaj's own goal

Oh dear: Bolton players celebrate Eric Lichaj's own goal

Aston Villa 0 Wigan 3 – match report

Aston Villa 0 Wigan 3: Lambert's hapless youngsters wiped out yet again by rampant Latics

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UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 29 December 2012

Crisis club Aston Villa alarmingly dropped deeper into a Premier League relegation battle with another abject performance against Wigan.

The visitors, meanwhile, moved out of the bottom three with a conclusive victory to record their first win in seven matches which highlighted Villa's dramatic shortcomings.

Villa, watched by club owner Randy Lerner, never recovered from a disastrous start when Ivan Ramis gave the Latics a morale-boosting lead after only three minutes.

Opener: Ivan Ramis (right) celebrates his goal which got proceedings underway

Opener: Ivan Ramis (right) celebrates his goal which got proceedings underway

It's raining goals: But sadly for Paul Lambert they're all going against his hapless Villa side

It's raining goals: But sadly for Paul Lambert they're all going against his hapless Villa side

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Herd, Clark, Lichaj (Albrighton 64), Lowton, Ireland (El Ahmadi 63), Holman (Bowery 63), Bannan, Bennett, Weimann, Benteke.

Subs not used: Given, Westwood, Stevens, Carruthers.

Booked: Bannan, Lowton, Weimann.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Jones (McArthur 65), Beausejour (Gomez 79), Kone (McManaman 87), Di Santo, Maloney.

Subs: Pollitt, Boselli, Stam, Golobart.

Booked: Boyce, Maloney.

Goals: Ramos 3, Boyce 52, Kone 56.

Att: 33,374.

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

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Two goals in the space of four minutes
early in the second half from Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone sealed
Villa's fate as their confidence visibly evaporated. They have now
shipped 15 goals in three games.

In the continued absence of such
players as Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles
N'Zogbia and Nathan Baker, the options open to under-pressure manager
Paul Lambert are very limited as illustrated in this latest defeat.

Just how much a lightweight Villa are
missing the commanding presence of Dunne was highlighted as early as the
third minute when Wigan took a shock lead.

Villa's inability to defend set-pieces
was blatantly exposed in the third minute after the ball ran out for a
corner as Matthew Lowton appeared to handle.

Jean Beausejour's accurate corner was
perfectly placed for the unmarked Ivan Ramis to mark his return to
action after missing six games with a powerful header past the
transfixed Brad

It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan
and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a
steep hill to climb.

Penalty decisions have gone against
Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour
when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.

Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot
from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa
were again on the wrong foot.

Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.

Christian Benteke was extremely
subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise
Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock
solid.

Leap: Ramis nodded home to get another day of misery for Villa underway

Leap: Ramis nodded home to get another day of misery for Villa underway

Pulling the strings for the visitors
was Shaun Maloney. The Scottish international formerly played for Villa
but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick,
before joining Wigan last year.

Benteke finally found a route through
Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal
to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.

After Emmerson Boyce and Maloney were
booked for reckless tackles Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to
Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the
crossbar with an angled shot.

All these efforts in search of an
equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan
consolidated their lead.

Boyce raced through despite the
attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna
Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.

Early bird: Ramis headed home a corner after just three minutes against Villa's hapless defence

Early bird: Ramis headed home a corner after just three minutes against Villa's hapless defence

In the 56th minute Kone himself got in
on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Di Santo as he sliced
his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle
despite a challenge from Guzan.

Villa made a triple substitution sending on El Ahmadi, Bowery and Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Lichaj.

The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.

It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan
and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a
steep hill to climb.

Penalty decisions have gone against
Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour
when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.

Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot
from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa
were again on the wrong foot.

Despair: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd look miserable during their defeat

Despair: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd look miserable during their defeat

In the money: Emmerson Boyce popped up to double Wigan's lead

In the money: Emmerson Boyce popped up to double Wigan's lead

Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.

Christian Benteke was extremely
subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise
Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock
solid.

Pulling the strings for the visitors
was Shaun Maloney. The Scottish international formerly played for Villa
but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick,
before joining Wigan last year.

Benteke finally found a route through
Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal
to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.

After Emmerson Boyce and Maloney were
booked for reckless tackles Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to
Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the
crossbar with an angled shot.

All these efforts in search of an
equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan
consolidated their lead.

Crunch: Franco Di Santo (right) goes in on Villa's Joe Bennett

Crunch: Franco Di Santo (right) goes in on Villa's Joe Bennett

Three and easy: Arouna Kone rounds Brad Guzan and tucks in the third

Three and easy: Arouna Kone rounds Brad Guzan and tucks in the third

Boyce raced through despite the
attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna
Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.

In the 56th minute Kone himself got in
on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Di Santo as he sliced
his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle
despite a challenge from Guzan.

Villa made a triple substitution sending on El Ahmadi, Bowery and Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Lichaj.

The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.

Laughing matter: Roberto Martinez saw his side bang in the goals for their first win in five

Laughing matter: Roberto Martinez saw his side bang in the goals for their first win in five

Shake on it: Martinez greets Villa mascot Hercules the Lion

Shake on it: Martinez greets Villa mascot Hercules the Lion

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4 match report – Gareth Bale scores hat-trick

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4: TREE-mendous Bale celebrates hat-trick in fine festive style

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UPDATED:

08:28 GMT, 27 December 2012

Gareth Bale’s first Premier League hat-trick pushed Paul Lambert towards an unwanted record as a second-half goal glut deepened the gloom at Villa Park.

The Wales winger grabbed the match ball – and stuck it on his Christmas tree – following his 23-minute salvo that built on Jermain Defoe’s opener to leave Villa’s boss with a massive festive hangover.

Just three days after the former European champions suffered the heaviest defeat in their history in shipping eight against last season’s Champions League winners, they served up another horror show against Tottenham in front of a sizeable holiday crowd.

Handy: Gareth Bale celebrated a hat-trick as spurs crushed Aston Villa

Handy: Gareth Bale celebrated a hat-trick as spurs crushed Aston Villa

Isn't that tweet: Bale used Twitter to show fans where he had put the match ball after his hat-trick

Isn't that tweet: Bale used Twitter to show fans where he had put the match ball after his hat-trick

Match facts

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Herd, Clark, Baker (Ireland 45), Bennett, Westwood (Albrighton 46), El Ahmadi, Delph, Holman, Benteke.

Subs Not Used: Given, Bowery, Bannan, Lichaj, Carruthers.

Booked: Delph.

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton, Lennon, Dembele (Parker 66), Sandro, Bale (Townsend 85), Defoe, Adebayor (Sigurdsson 79).

Subs Not Used: Friedel, Dawson, Livermore, Caulker.

Goals: Defoe 57, Bale 61, 73, 84.

Att: 36,863

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

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And with Bale at the heart of the
torment, it meant the 12 goals fired past Brad Guzan equalled the most ever conceded in back-to-back
matches in the Premier League. They share the dubious distinction with
Ipswich, Manchester City, West Ham and Wigan.

Make no mistake, this result was no
fluke. The first-half corner count was 15-1 in the visitors’ favour and
Villa did not enjoy a shot on Hugo Lloris’s goal until Marc Albrighton’s
effort three minutes from time.

It is difficult to judge just how
good Spurs were given they huffed and puffed against Stoke City last
time out. However, they at least looked like they knew what they were
doing, which was more than could be said for the hosts.

And once Defoe had broken the
deadlock and Villa were forced to chase the game, Bale exploited huge
gaps to take his season’s tally to nine in the league.

‘He’s up there with the best,’ said
manager Andre Villas-Boas following Spurs’ sixth victory in eight games.
‘And I think he is improving every game.

‘His left foot is wonderful and the
power and direction he applies is wonderful too. It was an excellent
performance from him and obviously he gets the goals and reward. But it
was a very good team performance from start to finish.’

Jermain Defoe makes the breakthrough

Jermain Defoe makes the breakthrough

Happy days: Defoe celebrates his strike

Happy days: Defoe celebrates his strike

Gareth Bale on Twitter

Before posting a picture of the match ball on top of his Christmas tree, Bale tweeted: 'Amazing feeling to get my first league hat trick today but more importantly a great team performance to get us up to 4th #matchball'

Asked about the possibility of Bale
leaving in January, his manager said: ‘There’s no release clause in his
contract. He has a market value that is unobtainable to most clubs.’

Villa, who used Christian Benteke as a
lone striker behind a five-man defence and four-man midfield, were
chasing shadows for long spells in the opening period.

Guzan made a superb fingertip stop to
deny Bale from 25 yards in what was the stand-out moment — apart from
the corner won by Villa in the last knockings of the half, greeted by
cheers from the home supporters.

Cool finish: Gareth Bale rounds goalkeeper Brad Guzan to score his team's second goal

Cool finish: Gareth Bale rounds goalkeeper Brad Guzan to score his team's second goal

Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur scores his first goal

Lambert’s side began the second half
brightly but Spurs found a way through. Defoe, surrounded by claret
shirts inside the area, passed backwards to Bale, who did likewise to
Kyle Naughton.

The left back’s first-time ball inside Matthew Lowton was controlled by Defoe, who finished with the outside of his right foot.

Four minutes later, it was two as
Villa shot themselves in the foot again. Spurs just managed to clear
Benteke’s cross from the right but Ciaran Clark’s pass was cut out by
Aaron Lennon and his pass inside was knocked into Bale’s path by Joe
Bennett. Bale ran forward with Chris Herd in his wake, rounding Guzan
and slotting home.

The whole stadium knew that was game
over. But not as far as Bale was concerned. Twelve minutes later, he
took a short ball from Lennon in his stride, taking one touch and
firing past Guzan.

Triple treat: Bale completes his hat-trick

Triple treat: Bale completes his hat-trick

Clinical: Bale scores his second goal

Clinical: Bale scores his second goal

Hat-trick hero: Bale holds the match ball

Hat-trick hero: Bale holds the match ball

Kyle Walker then fed substitute Gylfi
Sigurdsson, who pulled the ball back for Spurs’ man of the moment to
claim his second hat-trick for the club. Who could forget his first It
came in the San Siro against Inter Milan.

While those late goals lifted
Villas-Boas’s side to fourth, Villa now face Wigan on Saturday. If
Wigan win, they will move level on points with Lambert’s side. ‘We rode
our luck massively in the first half,’ admitted Lambert. ‘I thought
there was a foul on Fabian Delph in their first goal.

‘We had a good chance to make it 1-1
but then they go up the park and score again. That’s what can happen
when you are playing those kind of players.’

Asked whether there were problems
defensively, Lambert added: ‘It’s not just the defence. It’s everywhere.
We’re in it together, collectively you have to stop it.’

Villa’s fans – incredibly – ended the
game singing Lambert’s name. They have a Capital One Cup semi-final to
look forward to, after all.

But on this evidence, you wouldn’t
put it past Bradford to reach Wembley. Now that really would shake the
foundations at Villa Park.

Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0: Chelsea up to third

Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0: Brilliant Blues back up to third after rout on Lampard landmark

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 23 December 2012

A month ago, hate dripped from the steep tiers at Stamford Bridge as Rafa Benitez appeared on the touchline. Yesterday, the place was thrilled by eight goals. Not once did the Chelsea fans join in song to tell Benitez he wasn’t wanted here.

The last time they saw their team score this many was the final game of the Barclays Premier League season in 2010, when Carlo Ancelotti’s team walloped Wigan to celebrate the first leg of their first Double.

Landmark: Lampard (second left) scored on his 500th Premier League start

Landmark: Lampard (second left) scored on his 500th Premier League start

MATCH FACTS

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Luiz, Lampard (Ramires 61), Moses, Mata (Piazon 74), Hazard, Torres (Oscar 67).

Subs not used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Marin, Ake.

Goals: Torres 3, David Luiz 29, Ivanovic 34, Lampard 58, Ramires 75, 90, Oscar (pen) 79, Hazard 83.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Herd, Clark, Baker, Lowton, Bannan, Westwood (Ireland 57), Lichaj (Elliott 57), Weimann, Holman (Bowery 79), Benteke.

Subs not used: Given, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Delph.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 41,363.

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But that was Carlo, a free-wheeling and popular manager who implored his players to attack. This was Rafa, a cautious tactician, always alert to danger, who sat down after an 8-0 win to say: ‘We knew they would be dangerous in the counter-attacks.’

Emotions were all over the place as post-Japan Chelsea returned to the Premier League in emphatic style by condemning Aston Villa to the biggest defeat in their 138-year history.

They may have arrived unbeaten in six games but Paul Lambert’s team went home perilously close to the drop zone with the worst goal difference in the division.

Villa were awful but Chelsea were slick and impressive.

There were eight goals from seven different scorers but there could have been many more.

The Blues even missed a penalty but go into Christmas 11 points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand at home to Southampton.

Opener: Fernando Torres got Chelsea off to a flying start

Opener: Fernando Torres got Chelsea off to a flying start

Opener: Fernando Torres got Chelsea off to a flying start

In a month of Benitez, Fernando Torres
has been transformed to the point where he seems to be enjoying his
football and refused to sulk off when he was replaced.

The Spain striker opened the scoring in the third minute, rising to meet a deep cross from Cesar Azpilicueta with a majestic header from the edge of the penalty area.

It was his seventh under the new manager and his seventh in the last six games.

‘He scores when he wants,’ sang the fans in the Matthew Harding Stand, saluting the Benitez factor without giving him credit.

This won’t bother the manager too much. He will take his satisfaction from the aggressive tempo which crushed Villa.

Stunner: Luiz hammered home a free-kick to double the lead

Stunner: Luiz hammered home a free-kick to double the lead

The back five have worked well for
Lambert since centre half and skipper Ron Vlaar was injured but Chelsea
forced them deep, creating space for Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Victor
Moses.

Villa lurched from uncertainty to
desperation. Nathan Baker escaped a strong penalty appeal when he
appeared to hold Torres and Chelsea’s second came when Chris Herd sent
Hazard tumbling.

David Luiz stepped up and scored the
free-kick, a shot which wobbled over the wall and beat goalkeeper Brad
Guzan, a good yard inside his post.

Three and easy: Ivanovic rises to head home

Three and easy: Ivanovic rises to head home

Luiz, signed almost two years ago at
the same time as Torres, has also endured an oscillating career at the
club but appears to have made significant progress under Benitez, who
used him as a deep midfielder yesterday in the absence of John Mikel
Obi, who was banned.

The role suits Luiz, certainly when
Chelsea control possession. He performed it with success against
Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final and was comfortable against
Villa.

There is a safety net if he takes an undue risk and loses the
ball, as he did at Leeds in the Capital One Cup, yet his team benefit
from his exuberance and unpredictability in attack.

Club legend: Lampard takes the applause before being substituted after his goal

Club legend: Lampard takes the applause before being substituted after his goal

Club legend: Lampard takes the applause before being substituted after his goal

It was one of those days for
Chelsea. Not only were the converted centre halves threatening Guzan in
the Villa goal but so were the unconverted ones.

Guzan produced a terrific reflex save
to beat out Gary Cahill’s shot on the spin before the interval but the
rebound popped up to his defensive partner Branislav Ivanovic to head in
the third.

Fear took hold, mistakes crept in and Christian Benteke never looked
like scoring. The only chance of any note fell to Andreas Weimann — on
the break, as Benitez predicted — in the second half.

Weimann was denied by Petr Cech, who
deflected his low shot on to the bar to protect his clean sheet, despite
the fact the contest was already over.

Joining the party: Ramires came off the bench to net the fifth

Joining the party: Ramires came off the bench to net the fifth

Frank Lampard scored the fourth with a
right-foot volley from 30 yards. It was his 190th goal for Chelsea —
three behind Kerry Dixon, who stands second in the all-time goal list
for the club — on his 500th Premier League start.

It
was also his 130th top-flight goal for the club. No one has more.
Lampard was replaced a minute later to a standing ovation. Torres was
also taken off to rest ahead of the festive fixtures which will dictate
whether this is to turn into a genuine title fightback.

Six of the best: Oscar scored from the penalty spot

Six of the best: Oscar scored from the penalty spot

With Daniel Sturridge in Liverpool for a
medical, Moses played the last 23 minutes at centre forward and the
Blues finished with a front four of Moses, Oscar, Hazard and Lucas
Piazon, an 18-year-old Brazilian making his Premier League debut.

It was a quartet with an average age
of just over 20 but Piazon wasted no time making an impact, collecting
the ball on the left, gliding inside and finding Ramires, who scored
the fifth. It was a nice pass but did not need to be laser-guided.

Seventh heaven: Hazard slams home from inside the box

Seventh heaven: Hazard slams home from inside the box

Villa were all at sea by this stage and not helped when referee Phil Dowd started to hand out soft penalties.

Herd
was penalised for a slight pull on Oscar, who picked himself up to make
it six from the spot. Hazard lashed the seventh into the top corner and
Piazon missed a second penalty after he was fouled by Ciaran Clark.
Guzan made the save.

It was a very strange afternoon for the American goalkeeper.

Ramires scored the eighth in stoppage time and the Bridge stood to rejoice. For the man they reviled as the Spanish waiter, will it be any different after eight
Relentless: Ramires scores his second in stoppage time

Relentless: Ramires scores his second in stoppage time

Rout: Chelsea move back up to third in the Premier League table

Rout: Chelsea move back up to third in the Premier League table

Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3 – match report

Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3: Ruthless Benteke runs riot at Anfield with two goals and an assist

PUBLISHED:

16:50 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:07 GMT, 15 December 2012

Aston Villa exposed Liverpool's flaws and the flakiness of their challenge for a top-four place by inflicting the Reds' worst home defeat for more than three years.

Christian Benteke scored twice, either side of Andreas Weimann's well-worked goal, before Steven Gerrard's late consolation as the hosts' three-match winning run was ended in surprising fashion.

It was the first time Villa had scored more than once in any half of league football this season and extended their own unbeaten run to five matches, with only a second away win in 17 away league games.

Brilliant: Christian Benteke celebrated scoring his first goal at Anfield

Brilliant: Christian Benteke celebrated scoring his first goal at Anfield

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Downing, Lucas (Henderson 60), Allen, Sterling, Shelvey (Cole 46), Suarez,

Subs not used: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Wisdom, Suso

Booked: Suarez

Goal: Gerrard 87

Aston Villa: Guzan, Clark, Lichaj, Baker, Lowton, Westwood, Bannan (El Ahmadi 85), Herd, Holman (Delph 69), Benteke, Weimann (N'Zogbia 90)

Subs not used: Given, Bennett, Albrighton, Bowery

Booked: Lowton, Benteke

Goals: Benteke 29, 51, Weimann 40

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 44,607

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Villa inflicted the same scoreline in
August 2009, and although both sides are at a lower level now, this was
a result no-one would have predicted.

The visitors almost doubled their
league away goals tally for the campaign, which now stands at seven, in
recording only their fifth Anfield victory in 34 visits.

Yet barely 24 hours earlier Liverpool
manager Brendan Rodgers had been talking about targeting second-placed
Manchester City so high was the confidence in his squad.

City are now 14 points ahead and,
worse still, Liverpool failed to take advantage of Everton's draw at
Stoke to close the gap on fourth place with many of their rivals playing
tomorrow.

For their part Villa moved three
points clear of the relegation zone. The opening half-hour was virtually
one-way traffic as the home side set off at pace in search of a third
successive Barclays Premier League victory for the first time since May
2011.

But their eagerness seemed to get the
better of them as there was an air of over-complication and lack of
finesse about their play in the final third.

Stewart Downing, who in the matchday
programme revealed Rodgers had told him he could leave and he would
assess his options in January, started left-back for the injured Jose
Enrique but enjoyed plenty of space down the flank.

From bad to worse: Pepe Reina is left on his back after Andreas Weimann put the ball beyond his reach

From bad to worse: Pepe Reina is left on his back after Andreas Weimann put the ball beyond his reach

Gerrard bundled a shot at goalkeeper
Brad Guzan after a poor pass behind him from Luis Suarez, returning
after suspension, rebounded back off Raheem Sterling before Downing shot
wide after cutting in on his right foot.

It continued with Joe Allen driving
wide, Gerrard's feet getting in a tangle after being picked out by
Suarez's inch-perfect cross-field ball, and Shelvey delaying his shot
long enough got Nathan Baker to block after Suarez capitalised on Chris
Herd's mistake.

Liverpool's inability to take their chances has hurt them in the past and it proved to be the case again in the 29th minute.

Tormentor: Benteke was rampant for Villa

Tormentor: Benteke was rampant for Villa

Coming together: Luis Suarez (right) collides with Brad Guzan

Coming together: Luis Suarez (right) collides with Brad Guzan

Brett Holman passed inside to
Benteke, who took a touch and – with no-one closing him down – unleashed
a low shot which beat Reina off the inside of his right-hand post.

What a difference the goal made as Villa suddenly started playing 30 yards further up the field.

It almost paid off when Weimann
seized on Glen Johnson's weak header to lob Reina, only for the ball to
drop on to the roof of the net.

The Austrian did not make the same mistake just before half-time with a brilliantly-worked goal.
Weimann released Benteke in the inside-right channel and raced into a
gaping hole in the Liverpool defence to turn the striker's clever
backheel under Reina.

Joe Cole's emergence for the second
half at the expense of Shelvey highlighted the lack of genuine
match-winners outside of Rodgers' first XI.

Contested: Liverpool could not capitalise on their strong start

Contested: Liverpool could not capitalise on their strong start

Cheery: Brendan Rodgers had the smile wiped off his face when Benteke and Co ran riot

Cheery: Brendan Rodgers had the smile wiped off his face when Benteke and Co ran riot

They should, however, have got back
into the game early in the second half when Ciaran Clark clearly pulled
Daniel Agger's shirt in the penalty area, but referee Neil Swarbrick
maintained Liverpool's record of not winning a penalty this season by
ignoring the appeals.

It proved costly as when Cole was
robbed by Holman on the halfway line, Benteke was sensibly quickly given
possession and he danced through the Reds backline to chip a shot past
Reina.
Liverpool laid siege to Guzman's goal in the final half-hour, with
further claims for a penalty when Johnson's header hit Baker's arm also
going unanswered.

When they finally made a breakthrough it came too late with Gerrard heading in Johnson's cross-shot three minutes from the end.

There was just enough time left for
Benteke to escape with a yellow card for pushing Johnson in the face in
front of a rapidly-emptying Anfield.

Double trouble: Benteke and Weimann ensured Villa were out of sight by the time Steven Gerrard scored

Double trouble: Benteke and Weimann ensured Villa were out of sight by the time Steven Gerrard scored

Notching them up: Weimann has been in fine form of late

Notching them up: Weimann has been in fine form of late

Norwich 1 Aston Villa 4: Match report

Norwich 1 Aston Villa 4: Semi-final relief for returning Lambert but Bent hobbles off in rare start

|

UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 11 December 2012

Darren Bent made a rare appearance for Aston Villa, but may wish he hadn't after limping off after 35 minutes as Paul Lambert made a winning return to Norwich with his side booking a place in the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

The Canaries took the lead through Steve Morison, but Brett Holman brought Villa back on terms after 21 minutes.

Bent was then taken off with what looked like a hamstring problem but Villa went on to book their place in the semis with two second-half strikes from Andreas Weimann and a goal from Christian Benteke.

Brace yourself: Weimann's double secured Villa's spot in the semi-finals

Brace yourself: Weimann's double secured Villa's spot in the semi-finals

Match facts

Norwich: Bunn, Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Tierney, Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington, Holt, Morison.

Subs not used : Rudd, Turner, Jackson, Fox, Elliott Bennett, Garrido, Francomb.

Scorer: Morison

Aston Villa: Given, Clark, Herd, Baker, Lowton, El Ahmadi, Delph, Holman, Lichaj, Benteke, Bent.

Subs not used: Guzan, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Bannan, Weimann, Williams.

Scorers: Holman 21; Weimann 79, 84; Benteke 90.

Attendance: 26,142

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Game over: Bent hobbled off after half an hour in a rare start for Villa

Game over: Bent hobbled off after half an hour in a rare start for Villa

Game over: Bent hobbled off after half an hour in a rare start for Villa

Aston Villa 1 Reading 0 – match report: Christian Benteke strikes late

Aston Villa 1 Reading 0: Who needs Bent when you've got Benteke Big Belgian saves the day for Lambert

|

UPDATED:

02:08 GMT, 28 November 2012

Paul Lambert’s gamble on youth looked brave when he decided upon his Premier League strategy at the start of the season.

For 80 minutes, as Aston Villa made heavy weather of escaping the relegation zone, his decision looked increasingly desperate.

The former Norwich City boss stamped his credentials on the club within days of arriving in the post vacated by Alex McLeish. They were again evident as he once more omitted Darren Bent from his matchday squad.

Magic moment: Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game with a late header

Magic moment: Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game with a late header

Rise and fall: Benteke leaps above the defender to break the deadlock

Rise and fall: Benteke leaps above the defender to break the deadlock

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Baker, Clark, Stevens (Lichaj 24), Holman (Ireland 67), Westwood, Bannan, Weimann (Albrighton 68), Agbonlahor, Benteke.

Subs not used: Given, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.

Booked: Clark.

Goal: Benteke 80.

Reading: Federici, Cummings, Morrison, Mariappa, Shorey, Robson-Kanu (McCleary 83), Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Roberts (Hunt 79), Le Fondre.

Subs not used: Taylor, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, McCleary, Harte, Gunnarsson.

Att: 28,692.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

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But with 10 minutes to play of an
encounter with Reading that had only added to the air of general
frustration inside Villa Park, salvation was to hand.

It came in the shape of striker
Christian Benteke, an 8million signing from Genk on deadline day who is
rapidly proving to be one of the finds of the season.

He has the raw power of a young Emile
Heskey and his fifth goal of the campaign was one the former England
forward would have been proud of.

Ashley Westwood swung a corner to the
far post and the Belgium international out-jumped his marker, Sean
Morrison, to head home a goal that may prove priceless in the eventual
outcome of Lambert’s inaugural season.

In fairness to the Villa manager, his
side had looked by far the likelier of the two to find the net. The
noise which greeted Benteke’s winner was a mixture of relief and
elation.

And possibly nowhere more so was the
victory warmly received than on the home bench. Lambert swapped dug-outs
during the summer to be closer to Villa’s core support in the Holte
End.

Although he has made the right noises
so far, those which were coming back at him were the voices of a
supporter-base that was growing increasingly tired of platitudes. After
all, this was just Villa’s third home league victory in 13 months.
Unsurprisingly then, Lambert hailed match-winner Benteke.

‘He’s been fantastic for this club,
and for the national team,’ he said. ‘He’s growing up. For his age, he’s
a strong lad with very good ability. He always seems to get a chance,
whether it’s a header or a shot. He’s becoming a real fans’ favourite.’

Weimann wonders how he missed

Bannan and Tabb scrap for the ball

Blunder: Andreas Weimann (left) missed a great chance, while Barry Bannan and Jay Tabb fight for the ball

Take that: Villa's Nathan Baker (right) dives in on Jason Roberts

Take that: Villa's Nathan Baker (right) dives in on Jason Roberts

One person who is nowhere near the description of being a manager’s favourite, however, is Bent.

Despite the fact that Villa had not
scored in four of their last eight games and were struggling in front of
goal, Lambert believed untried signing Jordan Bowery carried more of a
goal threat than Bent.

‘I have no problem with his attitude
in training, none whatsoever,’ said Villa’s boss, ‘I watch him train
every day. I live and die by my decisions. I’ve picked a team to win,
not to lose.’ Asked what Bent needed to do to force his way back into
his thinking, Lambert replied: ‘Train well and play well.’

Lambert named a Villa team that
contained eight players aged 23 or under in a contest that for all the
world could be labelled a six-pointer. It was the youngest average age
of a Villa side in the Premier League era.

Attrition: Enda Stevens (right) vies for the ball with Reading forward Adam Le Fondre

Attrition: Enda Stevens (right) vies for the ball with Reading forward Adam Le Fondre

Struggle: Reading's Shaun Cummings and Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor battle for the ball

Struggle: Reading's Shaun Cummings and Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor battle for the ball

They were on top for long periods. It
will be of little relevance to Lambert that had Bent been on the pitch,
the contest may have been decided far earlier.

As it was, Andreas Weimann blazed over
the best chance of the first-half. Ciaran Clark was off-target with two
near-post headers and Benteke shot tamely into Adam Federici’s arms
when well-placed.

Referee Lee Probert failed to award a
spot-kick after Adrian Mariappa’s clumsy challenge on Weimann as the
Austria forward was making his way away from goal. At the other end,
Brad Guzan had blocked from Hal Robson-Kanu during the early skirmishes.

What is this Brian McDermott looks on as the teams churned out a dull game

What is this Brian McDermott looks on as the teams churned out a dull game

Until Jason Roberts twisted and turned
his way into the area only for Guzan to block a much simpler shot with
his legs, that was about as good as it got for the visitors.

The travelling support pleaded with
manager Brian McDermott to make a change. ‘It was a good idea, making a
sub,’ he said wryly afterwards. But Noel Hunt’s introduction had little
effect. Of far more relevance was the statistic that Reading have now
conceded 16 times in the last half-hour this season. It’s a trend that
could prove costly.

‘It was not a six-pointer,’ said
McDermott. ‘It’s a game of football. Villa have 13 points, they want
more than that. We have nine and we want more than that.’

But for Benteke, Reading would have.

Is that the time Paul Lambert checks his watch

Is that the time Paul Lambert checks his watch

Salvation: Benteke's goal was the highlight of the match

Salvation: Benteke's goal was the highlight of the match

VIDEO: ASTON VILLA 1 READING 0: MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

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Aston Villa v Arsenal live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Aston Villa v Arsenal – as it happens from Villa Park

|

UPDATED:

18:09 GMT, 24 November 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Aston Villa host Arsenal at Villa Park to conclude Saturday's action. The Gunners are riding high on confidence following their qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League and travel to a Villa side involved in a battle against relegation at this stage of the season. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Weimann, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

37min: A mistake from Szczesny sees him handle the ball outside the box under pressure from Gabriel Agbonlahor, giving Villa a free-kick on the left flank and the keeper a booking.

36min: Villa are stretched at the back again but the backline keeps its shape as Cazorla's 25-yard shot is blocked.

35min: There are signs that Arsenal are starting to make their class tell as they are now seeing more of the ball and forcing the hosts to drop deep.

When Villa do get possession back, they try to pass the ball around but are quickly forced into a hurried clearance.

32min: After that fine opening Villa have struggled to to test Arsenal in the last 15 minutes but will be happy that they have limited Arsenal going forward. The rain continues to fall in Birmingham.

29min: And this is a full chance. The Gunners break down the right and after the ball finds Ramsey inside the area, his shot through a crowd of Villa bodies and across goal is well blocked by Guzan.

27min: Half-chance for Arsenal as the ball bounces loose for Lukas Podolski inside the box, but Brad Guzan is quickly off his line to claim before the German can shoot.

25min: From InfostradaLive:

Arsenal have scored at least twice in four of their last five PL visits to Villa Park.

22min: But we are soon back at the other end where Villa think they have won a free-kick on the right side of the box.

As it turns out, Karim El Ahmadi is booked for diving after Santi Cazorla makes no contact with his attempted tackle. A great call by Lee Mason and his officials.

20min: A minute of appreciation from the Villa fans who applaud in support of their captain, Stiliyan Petrov who is battling illness.

During it, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fires wide at the near post for Arsenal.

19min: From there Westwood crosses for Benteke who climbs above Laurent Koscielny to head wide back across goal.

18min: Another Villa corner as Bannan's chip into the box is headed behind by Kieran Gibbs. It was crucial too as had he missed it, Benteke would have been one-on-one with Szczesny.

16min: The home fans are really starting to get behind their side as they force the Gunners into a number of errors.

Christian Benteke scuffs a shot from a poor Carl Jenkinson header inside the box as Villa continue to chase every ball.

14min: Excellent passing from Villa. A neat passing move precedes Westwood picking out Andreas Weimann on the left side of the box with a lofted ball, and his cross is pushed behind by Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny. The corner though comes to nothing.

11min: Barry Bannan's inswinging delivery from it is decent and powerful but no one can make contact as it flies wide at the far post.

10min: And his side win a free-kick to the right deep in Arsenal's half after Aaron Ramsey's sloppy lunge on Ashley Westwood.

9min: Aston Villa boss, Paul Lambert is serving a touchline ban today and judging by the weather it's a good match to observe it.

The Scot is watching from the stands but will be impressed how his side has stifled Arsenal so far.

6min: The away side continue to probe for an opening as Kieran Gibbs plays a hopeful low cross into the box but Villa comfortably clear.

5min: Olivier Giroud's cross from left is headed behind by Ron Vlaar for a corner, but the set-piece into the box evades everyone.

3min: Arsenal are trying to settle into their passing game but plenty of appetite from Villa so far who are pressing all over the park. No chances.

Tough in the tackle: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) attempts to tackle Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar

Tough in the tackle: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) attempts to tackle Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar

Kick-off: Arsenal, in yellow, get us going with Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla.

17.25: It's a chilly evening in the West Midlands and the rain is falling to accompany it as the players make their way out.

17.20: From InfostradaLive:

The starting lines up for both teams have a combined average age of 24 years and 252 days old – the youngest of any PL fixture this season and youngest since Manchester United’s 8-2 home win against Arsenal in August 2011 (23-314).

17.15: Arsene Wenger has said pre-match he expects a direct approach from Aston Villa and that he is prepared for it.

That's providing Paul Lambert's side can get the ball of course. The hosts could spend much of this game chasing shadows.

Back in the team: Aaron Ramsey replaces the rested Jack Wilshere for Arsenal

Back in the team: Aaron Ramsey replaces the rested Jack Wilshere for Arsenal

17.10: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert recalls midfielder Karim El Ahmadi in place of Stephen Ireland for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal – but there is no place amongst the substitutes for fit-again striker Darren Bent.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger makes three changes from the line-up which qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League via the midweek win over Montpellier.

Full-backs Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs replace Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen while midfielder Aaron Ramsey comes in for the rested Jack Wilshere.

17.05: The full line-ups from Villa Park:

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Weimann, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

17.00: On paper this isn't really a contest. Aston Villa looking well short of confidence and stuck inside the bottom three go up against an Arsenal side starting to go up through the gears again.

An away victory is surely on the cards but i think I may have said something like that when the Gunners visited Norwich recently…team news up next.

Gunning for success: Arsenal will hope to pile more misery on Aston Villa at Villa Park

Gunning for success: Arsenal will hope to pile more misery on Aston Villa at Villa Park

Paul Lambert fumes at officials over penalty award

Lambert left fuming by dubious penalty award before champions open floodgates

PUBLISHED:

19:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

19:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert railed against the officials after his side crashed to a 5-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Villa were only trailing 1-0 to the Barclays Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium when the hosts were awarded a controversial penalty early in the second half.

The visitors were mystified when referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot, having spotted a flag from his assistant, as David Silva swung a corner into the box.

Up you get: David Silva (left) celebrates with Carlos Tevez (right) after the goal

Up you get: David Silva (left) celebrates with Carlos Tevez (right) after the goal

MATCH FACTS

Manchester City: Hart, Maicon, Kompany, Clichy (Kolarov 73), Nastasic, Nasri, Barry, Silva (Sinclair 76), Y Toure, Aguero (Dzeko 69), Tevez

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Sinclair, Garcia

Goals: Silva 43, Aguero 54 pen, 67, Tevez 65 pen, 74

Aston Villa: Guzan, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, Lowton, Ireland (Albrighton 62), Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke (Bowery 83), Weimann (Holman 62),

Subs not used: Given, Baker, El Ahmadi, Delph

Booked: Bannan

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It transpired Andreas Weimann had
been penalised for handball as he leapt to reach the cross but the
debate over what proved the game's major turning point raged for some
time.

Lambert said: 'That's never a handball. What the linesman saw there I do not know.

'You have got to be 100% sure to give that and he saw something I think 50,000 other people never saw.'

Lambert added there was 'no point' complaining to the referee.

He said: 'We, as managers, are always hauled up – but that is a woeful decision.

'I haven't clue what he saw. It might not have changed the game but we certainly had a foothold in it.'

City took full advantage of the
controversy as Sergio Aguero struck from the spot and then added another
after Carlos Tevez had scored a second penalty.

Dynamic duo: Tevez's Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero also got in on the act

Dynamic duo: Tevez's Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero also got in on the act

Class act: David Silva scored on the stroke of half-time to get the ball rolling for City

Class act: David Silva scored on the stroke of half-time to get the ball rolling for City

Quids in! Tevez scored two on the day, including one from the spot

Quids in! Tevez scored two on the day, including one from the spot

Tevez wrapped up the scoring with
his second of the afternoon. The first penalty was not the only decision
which bothered Lambert, who also felt there had been an infringement in
the build-up to David Silva's first-half opener.

Flashpoint: Paul Lambert (left) speaks with fourth official Mark Halsey (right)

Flashpoint: Paul Lambert (left) speaks with fourth official Mark Halsey (right)

Lambert said: 'Even with the first
goal, there might have been a case of dangerous play with the overhead
kick in the penalty area.

'You just never know. I thought Joe Hart made a brilliant save to keep out Christian Benteke's header.

'We were well in the game – we had a
foothold in it and that is a big thing coming here. But the penalty was
a really shocking decision.'

Dominated: Yaya Toure (left) bossed the midfield for Manchester City

Dominated: Yaya Toure (left) bossed the midfield for Manchester City

You again: Edin Dzeko (right) replaced Aguero, but was unable to grab a customary goal

You again: Edin Dzeko (right) replaced Aguero, but was unable to grab a customary goal

Despite the issues, City ultimately won convincingly, much to the relief of their manager Roberto Mancini.

City's form has been under scrutiny
but they remain unbeaten in the competition and are well on course in
their title defence. Mancini said: “I am very satisfied with this
performance.

'In the first half we played well created a lot of chances but we were too soft when we had chances to score.

'But we played well and this is the most important thing.

Brazilian connection: Maicon (left) chases Gabby Agbonlahor (right)

Brazilian connection: Maicon (left) chases Gabby Agbonlahor (right)

Sneaking it in: Aguero's deflected shot left Guzan stranded before it hit the back of the net

Sneaking it in: Aguero's deflected shot left Guzan stranded before it hit the back of the net

Job done: Tevez, Silva and Samir Nasri celebrate when City were well on their way to victory

Job done: Tevez, Silva and Samir Nasri celebrate when City were well on their way to victory

'In the last two games I think we changed something. In our mind we found a good spirit, like last year.

'For us it is very important we start
to play well and in the last two games we have scored six goals with
our strikers. I think we have been missing their goals.'

Mancini also praised Hart, whose
form has been questioned in recent weeks and criticism increased after
his display in England's midweek friendly loss in Sweden.

Mancini said: 'This is his job. He
received criticism from you (press) after the international game, but
this is part of our life.

No chance: Aguero rifled his penalty past Brad Guzan

No chance: Aguero rifled his penalty past Brad Guzan

Are you kidding Andreas Weimann and Barry Bannan were incredulous after Jonathan Moss gave the first penalty

Are you kidding Andreas Weimann and Barry Bannan were incredulous after Jonathan Moss gave the first penalty

'Sometimes you can do well, sometimes you can do bad games.

'But it is important to have very
strong characters in this situation. Today he saved in the first half
(in) an important situation.'

Mancini confirmed striker Mario
Balotelli, who was absent from the matchday squad for a second
successive week, had suffered a back injury in training.

He said: 'Yesterday in the training session he had a problem in his back and said he couldn't play.'

Manchester City 5 Aston Villa 0 match report:

Manchester City 5 Aston Villa 0: Brilliant Aguero, Tevez and Silva brush visitors aside

PUBLISHED:

16:50 GMT, 17 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:16 GMT, 17 November 2012

Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez each struck twice as Manchester City fired a warning to their critics with an emphatic win over Aston Villa.

The Barclays Premier League champions went ahead through David Silva at the Etihad Stadium and then clicked into gear after being awarded a controversial penalty early in the second half.

Aguero struck from the spot and added another while Tevez, who celebrated by pretending to drive after his Porsche was impounded by police, added his own penalty and a close-range finish.

Up you get: David Silva (left) celebrates with Carlos Tevez (right) after the goal

Up you get: David Silva (left) celebrates with Carlos Tevez (right) after the goal

MATCH FACTS

Manchester City: Hart, Maicon, Kompany, Clichy (Kolarov 73), Nastasic, Nasri, Barry, Silva (Sinclair 76), Y Toure, Aguero (Dzeko 69), Tevez

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Sinclair, Garcia

Goals: Silva 43, Aguero 54 pen, 67, Tevez 65 pen, 74

Aston Villa: Guzan, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, Lowton, Ireland (Albrighton 62), Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke (Bowery 83), Weimann (Holman 62),

Subs not used: Given, Baker, El Ahmadi, Delph

Booked: Bannan

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Villa may rue the decision which led
to City's second, apparently given for handball against Andreas Weimann,
but they were well beaten in the end.

The performance of City in the latter
stages, particularly that of Aguero and Tevez, took the talk away from
the absence of Mario Balotelli.

The Italian, who played in Italy's
friendly against France on Wednesday, did not even make the bench for
his club side for a second successive week, although the striker was
reportedly injured.

City controlled the early stages but
did not create a serious chance aside from a scuffed Aguero shot which
bounced awkwardly and Tevez headed over.

Maicon, initially seeing plenty of the
ball after being preferred to Pablo Zabaleta, also found space to shoot
but his effort went well wide.

After seeing very little of the ball,
Villa finally launched a significant attack in the 12th minute but
Vincent Kompany blocked a shot from Christian Benteke.

Dynamic duo: Tevez's Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero also got in on the act

Dynamic duo: Tevez's Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero also got in on the act

Class act: David Silva scored on the stroke of half-time to get the ball rolling for City

Class act: David Silva scored on the stroke of half-time to get the ball rolling for City

Quids in! Tevez scored two on the day, including one from the spot

Quids in! Tevez scored two on the day, including one from the spot

City goalkeeper Joe Hart's form may
have been under scrutiny of late but there was nothing wrong with his
reflexes as Kompany almost sliced a Matt Lowton cross into his own net.

Hart reacted brilliantly to produce a
one-handed save and Kompany recovered to block Weimann's follow-up
attempt, although a flag had been raised.

Hart then showed all of his class to
keep out a header from Benteke after the Belgian outjumped Matija
Nastasic to reach an Enda Stevens cross.

City interrupted Villa's good spell as
Yaya Toure drove forward and Samir Nasri teed up Gael Clichy but Brad
Guzan was equal to the Frenchman's shot.

At the other end Maicon then got in the way of a Gabriel Agbonlahor shot but City then began to reassert themselves.

Ron Vlaar blocked from Toure, Tevez dragged an effort wide and Nasri shot straight at Guzan.

Toure missed the target with a header
from a Nasri corner and Guzan kept out a low attempt from Tevez that
appeared destined for the bottom corner.

There was little quality about City's opener when it arrived two minutes before the interval.

Dominated: Yaya Toure (left) bossed the midfield for Manchester City

Dominated: Yaya Toure (left) bossed the midfield for Manchester City

You again: Edin Dzeko (right) replaced Aguero, but was unable to grab a customary goal

You again: Edin Dzeko (right) replaced Aguero, but was unable to grab a customary goal

Villa failed to deal with a Nasri
corner but Tevez could not connect properly with a shot. The ball
bobbled dangerously inside the goal area and Silva reacted quickest to
tuck home from close range.

Silva almost added a second before the break but Guzan saved with his feet.

City started the second half brightly, with Tevez shooting across goal and Silva playing in Aguero with a fine ball.

Aguero shaped to shoot but was perhaps punished for a split-second's hesitation as Vlaar denied him with a fine tackle.

Aguero was not to be denied for long
but plenty of controversy surrounded his penalty as the assistant
referee flagged for an offence as Silva swung in a corner.

What it was awarded for was not immediately apparent, not least to the majority of the Villa team who surrounded the officials.

Brazilian connection: Maicon (left) chases Gabby Agbonlahor (right)

Brazilian connection: Maicon (left) chases Gabby Agbonlahor (right)

Sneaking it in: Aguero's deflected shot left Guzan stranded before it hit the back of the net

Sneaking it in: Aguero's deflected shot left Guzan stranded before it hit the back of the net

Job done: Tevez, Silva and Samir Nasri celebrate when City were well on their way to victory

Job done: Tevez, Silva and Samir Nasri celebrate when City were well on their way to victory

Replays suggested Weimann may have handled the cross but the debate continued long after Aguero had dispatched the spot-kick.

Villa felt wronged and were unable to recover.

There was little debate over the second penalty they conceded for handball as Barry Bannan was penalised after 65 minutes.

Tevez sent Guzan the wrong way and ran off pretending to be at the wheel of a car.

No chance: Aguero rifled his penalty past Brad Guzan

No chance: Aguero rifled his penalty past Brad Guzan

Are you kidding Andreas Weimann and Barry Bannan were incredulous after Jonathan Moss gave the first penalty

Are you kidding Andreas Weimann and Barry Bannan were incredulous after Jonathan Moss gave the first penalty

Things got worse almost immediately
for Villa as Hart launched a counter-attack and Aguero burst into the
area and finished inside the near post from a tight angle.

It proved his last involvement as Edin
Dzeko came off the bench and the Bosnian was soon in the action as City
piled on the misery for the visitors.

Dzeko found Nasri and the Frenchman's
ball across the area was tapped in from six yards by Tevez, who repeated
his earlier car celebration.

Villa were well beaten but City
continued to press for a sixth and substitute Scott Sinclair twice
narrowly missed the target in a strong finish.