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Aston Villa 1 Olympiakos 0 – NextGen match report

Aston Villa 1 Olympiakos 0: Burke fires dominant Villans in to NextGen semi-finals

By
Janine Self

PUBLISHED:

21:56 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 20 March 2013

The present may be somewhat rocky for Aston Villa but the future is looking bright and rosy.

Graham Burke’s first-half goal was enough to see the U19s through to the semi-finals of the NextGen Series at Lake Como over Easter.

But it took a brilliant late save by Brad Watkins from a ridiculously long-range free kick by Leandro Pinto to make sure in a nervy finale.

On target: Graham Burke of Aston Villa (centre) celebrates after firing his side through

On target: Graham Burke of Aston Villa (centre) celebrates after firing his side through

Denied: Jack Grealish has his shot saved by Eleftherids Choutesiotis of Olympiacos

Denied: Jack Grealish has his shot saved by Eleftherids Choutesiotis of Olympiacos

Last year Villa went out at the quarter-final stage and the defeat against Marseille has clearly rankled ever since.

A season on, the side skippered by Sami Carruthers has come on in leaps and bounds. So much so that Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax number among the Villa scalps.

Villa owner Randy Lerner is a big believer in the homegrown system so would have been delighted to see a healthy crowd in the upper tier of the North Stand.

Surprisingly there were also a fair few Olympiakos supporters too, who generated plenty of noise on a freezing night. Hardly Greek weather, though.

The visiting players did not give them much to cheer in the first half as Villa pretty much took control from the first moment.

Carruthers, who has already had a fleeting introduction to the first-team squad, was a steady influence while striker Callum Robinson made quite a nuisance of himself.

The Olympiakos fans even booed when he was in possession, a major compliment to any player.

It was Robinson who fired the first shot in anger, a routine effort which still had Eleftherids Choutesiotis scrambling to block.

A couple of minutes later and Villa were in the lead through Burke, who took advantage of a bouncing ball in the area to poke it past the keeper.

That signalled a spell of superiority when Villa could easily have increased their lead and should have. It would have saved a lot of worry later on.

Tussle: Jordan Lyden and Dimitrios Siopis of Olympiacos compete for the ball

Tussle: Jordan Lyden and Dimitrios Siopis of Olympiacos compete for the ball

Carruthers fed Josh Barton, whose shot was batted away by a less than sure-gloved Choutesiotis.

Robinson also had a couple of openings but had his first shot cleared for a corner and the second one, after a wonderful turn, rolled wide of a post.

Whether it was the temperature, the stadium or just nerves, Olympiakos took an age to get into the tie but, once they did, they caused a few scares.

It meant that an under-worked Watkins in the Villa goal suddenly had something to do. He did it well, too, gathering Dimitrios Siopis’s low shot and pushing the same player’s next attempt wide.

That set the scene for the start of the second half. This time it was Klodian Gino who twice held his head in his hands after clipping woodwork and seeing the ball drift just wide.

Midfield battle: Konstantinos Rougkalas fights for the ball with Burke

Midfield battle: Konstantinos Rougkalas fights for the ball with Burke

Just as the one-goal lead was beginning to look somewhat fragile, Villa’s Republic of Ireland U17 player of the year, Grealish showed what a prospect he could be.

One jinking run sliced through the Olympiakos defence and should have been capped with a goal. Sadly for Grealish, he hit the post instead.

Minutes later the previously uncertain Choutesiostis proved that when it comes to reflex saves he is a master. Somehow he kept out Grealish’s close-range header, which meant his team-mates stayed in the hunt.

With a minute to go Pinto from 40 yards out forced Watkins into a flying save and Villa were on the plane to Italy.

Leap: Villa's Callum Robinson is challenged by Leandro Climacci Pinto

Leap: Villa's Callum Robinson is challenged by Leandro Climacci Pinto

Aston Villa 2 Bradford 1 (agg 3-4): Match report

Aston Villa 2 Bradford 1 (agg 3-4): Hanson header kills off Villans as Bantams secure historic Wembley date

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 22 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 22 January 2013

James Hanson was the hero for Bradford City who secured a place in the Capital One Cup final despite defeat on the night, courtesy of an aggregate victory over Aston Villa.

The hosts flew out of the traps and seemed to be overwhelming the npower League Two side in the early stages of the first half and took a deserved lead through Christian Benteke in the 24th minute.

The Bantams held on and Hanson's header in the 55th minute sent the masses from South Yorkshire wild, the first team from the fourth tier in 51 years to reach a major final.

Andreas Weimann scored a late goal, but it was a mere consolation for Villa who now only have a relegation battle to face this season.

Phil Parkinson's side will face either Chelsea or Swansea in the final on February 24.

More to follow…

We're going to Wembley! Hanson's header put daylight between the two teams

We're going to Wembley! Hanson's header put daylight between the two teams

Match facts

Aston Villa: Given, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett (Weimann 70), Ireland, Delph, Bannan (Bent 62), N'Zogbia, Benteke, Agbonlahor.

Subs not used: Guzan, Holman, Stevens, Lichaj, Carruthers.

Booked: Clark, N'Zogbia, Delph.

Goals: Benteke 24, Weimann 89.

Bradford: Duke, Darby, McHugh, McArdle, Good, Hines (Thompson 71), Gary Jones, Doyle, Atkinson, Hanson, Wells (Turgott 87).

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Ravenhill, Reid, Connell, Nelson.

Goals: Hanson 55.

Aggregate: (3-4)

Attendance: 40,193

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Twitter reaction

Shaun Teale: I'm embarrassed that these players will walk off the pitch and go home while the fans will be distraught . To many players not good enough

Michael Owen: Villa devoid of ideas. Resorting to knocking it long. No width at all. Bradford fully deserve to be heading to Wembley.

Plenty to ponder: Lambert must now steel his team for a relegation battle

Plenty to ponder: Lambert must now steel his team for a relegation battle

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 manager Paul Lambert makes profit as stars flout phone ban

Villa boss Lambert rings up profit as stars flout phone ban

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UPDATED:

10:24 GMT, 22 September 2012

Paul Lambert's hard-line approach at Aston Villa is reaping cash rewards after several players ignored his ban on mobile phones.

The Scot has clamped down on the use of personal computers and phones at his Bodymoor Heath training base.

But it seems that some members of Villa's first team have not taken the rule seriously.

Hit in the pocket: Carruthers was fined for making a phone call

Hit in the pocket: Carruthers was fined for making a phone call

Samir Carruthers, who scored against Liverpool on his debut at Anfield last season, used Twitter to reveal he had been hit in the pocket.

Brandishing a fistful of notes, the 19-year-old playmaker wrote: '500 fine for a phone call. #paul lambert has me on toast #wallet heavy until tomorrow.'

No nonsense: Lambert has taken a hard-line approach

No nonsense: Lambert has taken a hard-line approach

When quizzed, Lambert said: 'Yes, that's right, he's been fined. No, I didn't text him to inform him he was getting it. But those are the rules and I'm not going to bend them for anyone.'

Asked if other players had erred, he joked: 'Let's put it like this, I won't go short of bread. So if you guys want a lunch – or five – with me that will be fine.'

Lambert heads to Southampton this afternoon on the back of Villa's encouraging 2-0 win over Swansea.

Like under-pressure home boss Nigel Adkins, the Scot managed back-to-back promotions with Norwich. City did not manage a victory in their first four matches last season and Lambert has a warning for the St Mary's decision-makers.

'I think it has been proven that if you give good people time, they will get it right. But if you make a knee-jerk reaction, then you will be back at square one again,' he said.

'I know where he is at. I got my head down and worked through it and I'm sure Nigel will do the same.'

London 2012 Olympics: Philips Idowu pulls out of London Grand Prix with back problem

Idowu suffers Olympic injury scare after pulling out of London Grand Prix with back problem

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UPDATED:

15:54 GMT, 14 July 2012

Phillips Idowu pulled out of the triple jump at the Aviva London Grand Prix – just three days after insisting injury was not behind his long lay-off this season.

Olympic silver medallist Idowu has competed just three times in 2012, with his last appearance coming in Eugene, Oregon on June 1. He struggled to hit top form in that event with leaps of 16.43 metres and 17.05m before a foul in the third round, after which he took no further part in the competition.

Scare: Phillips Idowu pulled out of the London Grand Prix

Scare: Phillips Idowu pulled out of the London Grand Prix

The 33-year-old subsequently withdrew from meetings in Oslo and Paris and the Olympic trials in Birmingham, with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee declining to clarify Idowu's situation due to issues of 'medical confidentiality'.

Idowu claimed on Wednesday he had never mentioned an injury and was happen to let the 'rumour mill stir itself,' but today pulled out of the competition at Crystal Palace just 25 minutes before it was due to start with a hip problem.

The withdrawal of Idowu came shortly after British team-mate Tiffany Porter broke down in tears after finishing last in her semi-final of the 100m hurdles.

I'm ok: Phillips Idowu speaks to reporters, including Sportsmail's Jonathan McEvoy, and says he is over his injury problems

I'm ok: Phillips Idowu speaks to reporters, including Sportsmail's Jonathan McEvoy, and says he is over his injury problems

Porter has been carrying a back injury and looked in pain as she slowed down from the seventh hurdle onwards before finishing in 14.19 seconds, more than 1.5s behind winner Virginia Crawford.

Medal hope: Idowu is a per-Olympic favorite to win a medal

Medal hope: Idowu is a per-Olympic favorite to win a medal

American Danielle Carruthers, who finished third, comforted Porter on the track and said: “She's a little dinged up and she is a little worried because the pressure of competing well and getting a medal in your home town is big.

'I know how that feels to have a lot of pressure on you and I just wanted to let her know that even though things are hurting on you, you have a chance, your body is hurting but it doesn't mean you can't run fast.

'It's hard to get past it when you have some pain but last year at the World Championships my achilles was hurting me bad, a week before I was crying just like her thinking I was out of it, but we taped me up, had acupuncture, pieced me together and I got a medal.'

With Robbie Grabarz only finishing joint second alongside Tom Parsons in the high jump with a best of 2.22m, there was at least some good news in the women's javelin as Goldie Sayers improved her own British record.

Sayers threw 66.17m in the first round to better her previous best of 65.75m, which was set when finishing fourth in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Norwich 2 Aston Villa 0: McLeish"s men survive the drop

Norwich 2 Aston Villa 0: Canaries have McLeish's men in final day flap

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UPDATED:

16:16 GMT, 13 May 2012

Goals from Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson helped Norwich commemorate a successful campaign back in the Barclays Premier League with a comfortable final-day victory over Aston Villa at Carrow Road.

Many had expected Paul Lambert's Canaries to be battling at the wrong end of the table on their first return to the elite for six seasons.

However, a string of industrious displays kept Lambert's hard-working side clear of danger well before this afternoon's final day visit of Villa, who barring a monumental goals swing, were also secure of top-flight status, albeit after what has been an uninspiring campaign under Alex McLeish.

Holt end: Grant Holt hit Norwich's first goal in a victory that ended a successful campaign

Holt end: Grant Holt hit Norwich's first goal in a victory that ended a successful campaign

Match facts

NORWICH: Ruddy, Naughton, Martin, Ryan Bennett, Lappin, Elliott Bennett, Johnson, Hoolahan, Howson (Crofts 76), Holt (Morison 68), Jackson (Wilbraham 68). Unused subs: Steer, Drury, Surman, Fox.

Goals: Holt 8, Jackson 21

Booked: Holt

ASTON VILLA: Given, Cuellar (Gardner 66), Collins, Dunne, Lichaj, Ireland, Clark, Herd (Bannan 46), Warnock (Baker 81), Agbonlahor, Heskey. Unused subs: Guzan, N'Zogbia, Delfouneso, Carruthers.

Booked: Clark, Ireland

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Click here for the final Premier League table

First-half goals from leading scorer
Holt and Jackson made for a party atmosphere in the Norfolk sunshine –
where the several thousand Villa fans sent a loud and clear message they
expected better next season.

It was a strong start by the home
side, who had been outclassed in their last two matches here by
Manchester City and Liverpool.

After Holt was booked for failing to
retreat at a free-kick, the Norwich captain fired the Canaries in front
after eight minutes.

James Collins bundled over Simeon
Jackson, 25 yards out on the right. Bradley Johnson floated the
resulting free-kick into the Villa box, where Holt got up between two
defenders at the far post, the ball cannoning off his shoulder and past
Shay Given for a 15th Premier League goal.

Norwich continued to press and Jonny
Howson let fly from 20 yards, with Given taking no chances as he turned
the shot, which was going wide, around the post at full stretch.

Going close: Emile Heskey fires in a shot but Villa were to leave empty-handed

Going close: Emile Heskey fires in a shot but Villa were to leave empty-handed

The Villa goalkeeper was then let
down by his static defence as Norwich went 2-0 up after 22 minutes. A
long ball forward from right-back Kyle Naughton was headed back across
his own six-yard box by Carlos Cuellar, straight into the path of
Jackson.

Given was out quickly to make a smart block, but the diminutive Canada striker calmly slotted the rebound into an empty net.

Norwich had a strong shout for a
penalty when Jackson's cross hit Cuellar's outstretched arm – but
referee Martin Atkinson saw nothing untoward and waved play on.

Early bird: The Canaries scored quickly thanks to Holt and never looked back

Early bird: The Canaries scored quickly thanks to Holt and never looked back

Villa showed little in way of
attacking intent, with Norwich enjoying a spell of possession which just
lacked a final telling pass.

Lambert has been touted as a
potential candidate should owner Randy Lerner look to make a change at
Villa Park during the summer – with both sets of fans chanting the
Scotsman's name, one as a sign of appreciation and the other as a
message to their board.

The visitors finally sprung to life
five minutes before the break as American defender Eric Lichaj strode to
the edge of the Norwich penalty area and sent in a low shot which John
Ruddy palmed around the post.

On the slide: Ciaran Clark (centre) is thwarted by Norwich's Jonathan Howson

On the slide: Ciaran Clark (centre) is thwarted by Norwich's Jonathan Howson

Cuellar blocked Howson right on the
left corner of the penalty area, with the referee giving a free-kick
rather than pointing to the spot, despite replays suggesting the offense
took place just inside the line.

Villa made a change for the start of
the second half as midfielder Chris Herd was replaced by Barry Bannan,
and they quickly had a dominant spell.

Ruddy pushed Emile Heskey's low shot
around the post before tipping over Stephen Ireland's 20-yard rising
drive. Norwich, though, were soon back on the offensive themselves, with
Jackson stretching the Villa backline.

Under pressure: Villa boss Alex McLeish (third right) may not survive after a dismal season

Under pressure: Villa boss Alex McLeish (third right) may not survive after a dismal season

After 63 minutes, the Canada striker,
whose goal at Portsmouth this time last season had secured promotion
back up to the top flight, sent a low, 20-yard effort goalwards, which
Given turned behind at full stretch.

Villa were unfortunate not to pull a
goal back when Gabriel Agbonlahor cut in from the left and his shot was
touched on to the inside of the far post by Ruddy, with Russell Martin
hacking the loose ball clear.

Norwich were still creating chances at
the other end, where substitute Aaron Wilbraham blazed over before
winger Elliott Bennett did the same.

Premier League wish Grant-ed: Holt instrumental in helping Norwich extend their top-flight stay

Premier League wish Grant-ed: Holt instrumental in helping Norwich extend their top-flight stay

Cooking up a storm: Norwich joint-owner Delia Smith watched another victory at Carrow Road

Heads we win: Kyle Naughton battles with Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor

Cooking up a storm: Norwich joint-owner Delia Smith looks on as Kyle Naughton battles with Gabriel Agbonlahor

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 1 – match report

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 1: Spurs fail to capitalise on Gunners slip with their own dropped points

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 6 May 2012

Tottenham suffered a major blow in their bid to secure a top three finish when they failed to overcome a stubborn Aston Villa who, courtesy of the point, all but secured top flight status for another year.

Spurs were already behind to Ciaran Clark's speculative effort when Danny Rose made their challenge even harder with a shin-high tackle on Alan Hutton, giving the referee no alternative but to send the young Englishman off.

However, despite the dismissal, Harry Redknapp's side fought their way back into the match when Emmanuel Adebayor stroked home from the spot after Richard Dunne felled Sandro in the box.

More to follow…

Marching orders: Danny Rose's sending off in the second half was the main talking point at Villa Park

Marching orders: Danny Rose's sending off in the second half was the main talking point at Villa Park

MATCH FACTS

ASTON VILLA: Given, Hutton (Collins 53), Warnock, Dunne, Clark, Cuellar, Lichaj, Ireland, N'Zogbia, Herd, Heskey (Weimann 51, Delfouneso 70). Subs not used: Guzan, Bannan, Gardner, Carruthers.

Goals: Clark 35

Booked: Dunne

TOTTENHAM: Friedel, Kaboul, Gallas, Walker, Bale, Lennon, Van der Vaart (Parker 89), Modric, Rose, Sandro, Adebayor. Subs not used: Cudicini, Nelsen, Livermore, Saha, Giovani, Defoe

Goals: Adebayor (pen) 62

Booked: Kaboul

Sent off: Rose

Attendance: 36,008

Referee: Lee Probert

Crunch: Rose's rash challenge left Alan Hutton in a heap, with the Scotland international subsequently going off

Crunch: Rose's rash challenge left Alan Hutton in a heap, with the Scotland international subsequently going off

Hero, not Villain: Ciaran Clark gave Aston Villa a half-time lead with a fortuitous long-range effort

Hero, not Villain: Ciaran Clark gave Aston Villa a half-time lead with a fortuitous long-range effort

Hero, not Villain: Ciaran Clark gave Aston Villa a half-time lead with a fortuitous long-range effort

Spot on: Emmanuel Adebayor got Spurs back on level terms with a cool penalty

Spot on: Emmanuel Adebayor got Spurs back on level terms with a cool penalty

Battle: The game failed to really spark with much of the action stuck in the middle third

Battle: The game failed to really spark with much of the action stuck in the middle third

Much to ponder: Alex McLeish faced further calls for him to step down

Much to ponder: Alex McLeish faced further calls for him to step down

Much to ponder: Alex McLeish faced further calls for him to step down

Much to ponder: Alex McLeish faced further calls for him to step down

Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0: Ashley Young dives as Reds claim crucial win

Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0: Fall guy Ashley – Young hits the deck (again) as Villa sink without a fight

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 15 April 2012

Manchester United have a seventh successive win at home in the Premier League and once again lead their neighbours from across town by five points. From that point of view, this will have been a satisfying afternoon for Sir Alex Ferguson and his team.

For the neutrals, though, this was a day that served only to showcase the worst of our domestic game.

Ashley Young’s dive to win an important early penalty was a dreadful act. His manager called it a dramatic fall. It was actually a dive. It was Young’s second such effort in the space of a week and it is to be hoped he watched it on TV on Sunday night and felt a little embarrassed.

What was just as disappointing, though, was Aston Villa’s utter failure to make this game a contest. A big club with a rich history, Villa played like a team who never believed they could get anything. That reflects badly on them and indeed on the League.

Winning feelign: Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring with Ashley Young (right) and Michael Carrick (left)

Winning feelign: Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring with Ashley Young (right) and Michael Carrick (left)

MATCH FACTS

Man Utd: De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes (Cleverley 78), Young (Nani 61) Rooney (Berbatov 74), Welbeck.

Booked: Carrick, Scholes

Goals: Rooney (pen) 7, 73, Welbeck 44, Nani 90+3

Subs not used: Amos, Jones, Giggs, Hernandez

Aston Villa: Given; Hutton, Collins, Baker, Lichaj, Bannan, Ireland (Carruthers 75), Clark (Heskey 64), Gardner, Weimann (N'Zogbia 83), Agbonlahor.

Booked: Gardner, Hutton

Subs not used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Cuellar, Johnson

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

First, though, to the penalty. Villa manager Alex McLeish described it as ‘soft’. That was an understatement.

Young attacked the Villa penalty area
at speed and with devilish intent, skipping past Alan Hutton before
arriving on the doorstep of Ciaran Clark. The Villa midfielder looked
set to challenge Young but withdrew at the last moment, prompting Young
to stand on his foot and go over like a Friday night drunk.

Having done a similar thing to win a
penalty at home to QPR on Easter Sunday, it would appear that Young has
not twigged just what this will be doing to his reputation. It would be
an enormous surprise if Ferguson does not outline it starkly to him this
week.

Young is not the only one, of course.
Let us be clear about that. However, Ferguson was recently critical of
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s tendency to go to ground and Young
should be made aware that, once earned, bad reputations can be hard to
shake.

United’s Wayne Rooney despatched the
subsequent penalty without fuss and the leaders were on their way to
straightforward victory.

Controversy: Ashley Young is fouled by Ciaran Clark in the first half at Old Trafford

Controversy: Ashley Young is fouled by Ciaran Clark in the first half at Old Trafford

Some may argue that United scored
four anyway and that the penalty therefore does not matter. They are
wrong. On days like this, teams can get a little edgy if the first goal
doesn’t come and what Young and referee Mark Halsey combined to do was
release any semblance of pressure.

Certainly, United were good value for
their victory from that point on. Danny Welbeck saw a header blocked in
the 17th minute before Villa goalkeeper Shay Given saved from Rooney at
the near post. Rooney then headed a chance wide after Michael Carrick
had flicked on a corner, Welbeck had a shot blocked by James Collins and
Paul Scholes crunched a stunning volley wide from 25 yards after Young
dropped a corner on to his right foot.

UNITED'S RUN-IN

April 22: Everton (h)

April 30: Man City (a)

May 6: Swansea (h)

May 13: Sunderland (a)

CITY'S RUN-IN

April 22: Wolves (a)

April 30: Man Utd (h)

May 6: Newcastle (a)

May 13: QPR (h)

In front: Wayne Rooney fires home the resultant penalty to put United in the lead

In front: Wayne Rooney fires home the resultant penalty to put United in the lead

For the most part, the football was
being played in Villa’s half. They did break in the 28th minute to allow
Stephen Ireland to curl a shot wide but United scored the decisive goal
just before half-time.
Captain Patrice Evra advanced down the left and when his low cross
arrived, Collins and Nathan Baker appeared to let it pass them by.
Welbeck arrived to prod the ball in at the far post.

Villa were missing some important players and had a youthful look. Nevertheless, this was a pretty lame effort.

Double trouble: Danny Welbeck slides in to score United's second on the stroke of half time

Double trouble: Danny Welbeck slides in to score United's second on the stroke of half time

Manchester United's Danny Welbeck (R) shoots past Aston Villa's Nathan Baker

In the second half, substitute Emile
Heskey did see a header touched over by United goalkeeper David de Gea
but the game drifted for a while before Rooney combined beautifully with
Valencia down the right and prodded the ball in for his second goal of
the day with the help of a slight deflection.

Rooney was taken off during the
midweek defeat at Wigan and was a little out of sorts at times here.
Nevertheless, he still scored twice and now has 31 goals — nine of them
penalties — for the season.

East street: Welbeck (left) celebrates after his goal put United well on their way to victory

East street: Welbeck (left) celebrates after his goal put United well on their way to victory

Valencia was denied by another smart
save from Given before United did manage to score again in injury time,
substitute Nani breaking clear to net at the Stretford End.

For United, the equation is now very
simple. If they win their next two games they will be champions. They
face Everton at Old Trafford next Sunday and City at the Etihad on
Monday, April 30.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Rooney adds gloss to the scoreline with his second goal of the game

Signed, sealed, delivered: Rooney adds gloss to the scoreline with his second goal of the game

Clinching the title on City’s turf
would certainly bring Ferguson and United an extra injection of
pleasure. It is looking as though it will be a remarkable evening.

Sunday, by contrast, was rather humdrum. If it is remembered at all, it will be for the wrong reasons.

Rout: Nani adds a fourth goal at Old Trafford (above) before celebrating in trademark style (below)

Rout: Nani adds a fourth goal at Old Trafford (above) before celebrating in trademark style (below)

Manchester United's Nani celebrates after scoring against Aston Villa

In Focus by Chris Wheeler

Antonio Valencia

The winger gave Villa’s full backs plenty of problems. He scored a stunner with the outside of his right foot at Blackburn a few weeks ago but a similar effort flew high and so wide it went out for a throw-in.

Ciaran Clark

Not a good day for defender Clark who conceded the penalty in the first period and went off with a heavily bandaged head after a second-half collision with Patrice Evra.

Alan Green

The BBC Radio 5 Live presenter’s 606 phone-in would not have made enjoyable listening for Sir Alex Ferguson. Green referred to Ashley Young as ‘a cheat’ on numerous occasions.

Andreas Weimann

The young Villa forward may have scored twice in his last five games but the prolific Austrian was
left to rue missing the visitors’ best chance when he was put clear after just 30 seconds.

Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0

Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0: Rooney and Welbeck help restore advantage at top

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 15 April 2012

Ashley Young was branded 'a disgrace' by fellow Premier League player Ryan Taylor after the Manchester United star was involved in yet another penalty controversy in the hammering of Aston Villa.

Wayne Rooney converted the sixth-minute spot-kick and added another, with Danny Welbeck and Nani also on target as United responded in perfect fashion to Manchester City's six-goal salvo on Saturday to re-establish a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Villa remain in trouble, six points clear of third-bottom Bolton, who also have a game in hand.

Winning feelign: Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring with Ashley Young (right) and Michael Carrick (left)

Winning feelign: Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring with Ashley Young (right) and Michael Carrick (left)

MATCH FACTS

Man Utd: De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes (Cleverley 78), Young (Nani 61) Rooney (Berbatov 74), Welbeck.

Booked: Carrick, Scholes

Goals: Rooney (pen) 7, 73, Welbeck 44, Nani 90+3

Subs not used: Amos, Jones, Giggs, Hernandez

Aston Villa: Given; Hutton, Collins, Baker, Lichaj, Bannan, Ireland (Carruthers 75), Clark (Heskey 64), Gardner, Weimann (N'Zogbia 83), Agbonlahor.

Booked: Gardner, Hutton

Subs not used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Cuellar, Johnson

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

But, with four games to go, it is the
battle at the top that is concentrating minds, and the behaviour of
Young that is provoking ire.

Now there will be more questions about his willingness to bend the rules.

Newcastle's Taylor led the chorus of disapproval, branding Young “an absolute disgrace” on Twitter, adding: “He's the biggest cheat in the league. His antics are a joke.”

The comment was hastily removed, although not before reaction had flashed around the world.

England legend Gary Lineker suggested Young could end up with an unwanted reputation if he keeps reacting in this way.

In an era where forwards tend to go down under the slightest contact, Young's theatrical fall did come after he was touched by Ciaran Clark.

Not enough to tip the England man over, though, and the incident did Young little credit.

In the context of relieving the pressure in a title fight that has had new life injected into it by a combination of City finding their form again and United losing at Wigan, it was a present.

Rooney kept his nerve and sent Shay Given the wrong way.

Controversy: Ashley Young is fouled by Ciaran Clark in the first half at Old Trafford

Controversy: Ashley Young is fouled by Ciaran Clark in the first half at Old Trafford

It was his 30th goal of the season and the 10th time he has scored against Given, now top of the list of his favourite keepers.

United dominated thereafter. Given's reaction save denied Welbeck, recalled along with veteran midfielder Paul Scholes, who met two thunderous volleys perfectly.

Given kept out the first, the second whistled wide at astonishing speed.

In front: Wayne Rooney fires home the resultant penalty to put United in the lead

In front: Wayne Rooney fires home the resultant penalty to put United in the lead

Though clearly limited, Villa did enough to keep their band of supporters interested and both Clark and Stephen Ireland went close during rare counter-attacks.

United needed a second to calm any remaining nerves and Nathan Baker duly provided a gift shortly before the break.

In allowing Patrice Evra's low cross to run under his leg at the far-post, Baker presumably thought the ball was heading out for a goal-kick.

He was mistaken.

Double trouble: Danny Welbeck slides in to score United's second on the stroke of half time

Double trouble: Danny Welbeck slides in to score United's second on the stroke of half time

Manchester United's Danny Welbeck (R) shoots past Aston Villa's Nathan Baker

Instead, Welbeck slid in to nudge home from close range, his 11th goal of the season, but only his second since January.

It was a defensive lapse that has been
so prominent in Villa's season to date and clearly the finishing line
cannot come soon enough.

They do have some tricky hurdles to
negotiate yet, though, including a home encounter with Bolton, and the
loss of Clark, who was groggily helped off after trying to continue
following an accidental clash with Patrice Evra, did not help matters.

East street: Welbeck (left) celebrates after his goal put United well on their way to victory

East street: Welbeck (left) celebrates after his goal put United well on their way to victory

His replacement, Emile Heskey, came closest for the visitors not long afterwards.

But after his header was tipped over by David de Gea, Rooney spurned a golden opportunity when he mis-hit a 10-yard effort and sent it bobbling harmlessly wide.

It was not long before another chance came Rooney's way.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Rooney adds gloss to the scoreline with his second goal of the game

Signed, sealed, delivered: Rooney adds gloss to the scoreline with his second goal of the game

And this time it ended up in the net, thanks to a significant deflection off James Collins.

Before Villa could restart, Rooney was replaced by Dimitar Berbatov.

It did not seem to be a change the striker was entirely in agreement with.

Rout: Nani adds a fourth goal at Old Trafford (above) before celebrating in trademark style (below)

Rout: Nani adds a fourth goal at Old Trafford (above) before celebrating in trademark style (below)

Manchester United's Nani celebrates after scoring against Aston Villa

However, with the clock ticking down on Berbatov's mercurial United career, the home fans did welcome the Bulgarian enthusiastically.

It was Nani, who had been introduced for Young after an hour, who provided the final flourish, though, finishing Jonny Evans' lay-off in cool fashion before a trademark somersault celebration.