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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

Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with "huge point" at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with 'huge point' at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

By
Andrew Gwilym, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:26 GMT, 1 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 2 January 2013

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert described his side's 2-2 draw at Swansea as a huge point, despite seeing them denied all three by Danny Graham's injury-time equaliser.

The Villans had conceded 15 and scored none in their previous three games and Wayne Routledge added to their woes as he fired the hosts ahead in the ninth minute.

But relegation-threatened Villa had looked set to take the points when Andreas Weimann levelled just before the interval and Christian Benteke scored from the spot when Nathan Dyer conceded an 84th-minute penalty for a foul on Weimann.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert needs to improve things on the pitch

Under pressure: Lambert's side are just one point off the relegation zone after Swansea's stoppage time goal

However, Graham fired home a rebound in a late goalmouth scramble, to leave Lambert with his head in his hands.

A point at least ends Villa's miserable run of defeats and, despite the crushing disappointment, Lambert feels he can take great heart from a gutsy effort by a side with an average age of just 23 years and 119 days – making it the youngest the club had ever fielded in a Premier League fixture.

Villa players react as they concede an equalizer

Gutted: Villa players were left dejected after conceding in the 94th minute

He said: 'It is a huge point although we should have seen it through. But it's a massive point and we were very good and threatening in the second half.

'In the first half they were coming at us from all angles and we had to weather that storm and we needed a couple of good saves from Brad and they also hit the woodwork.

'But to get the goal before half-time certainly helped us and it had a galvanising effect, it gives you something to get going and in the second half we were very good.

'We have been beaten heavily in the last three games so this is a huge point for the future of the club.

'The young lads in the side have been excellent and when you get beaten heavily you learn a lot about people and today showed they are mentally strong.'

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Aston Villa from the penalty spot

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Villa from the penalty spot

Injury-hit Villa, already without the likes of Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Richard Dunne, also lost Ashley Westwood to an ankle problem after he was felled from behind by Michu's clumsy tackle.

And Lambert will wait before assessing how severe the problem is.

He said: 'He is hobbling at the minute but we will see how he feels. We think it is his ankle.'

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, was left scratching his head as to how his side had not won a game in which they had almost 70 per cent possession and had threatened to run away with during an opening half-hour when Villa were all at sea.

Michu, Graham and Routledge were among those to miss gilt-edged chances, and the Dane said: 'We did not win because we only scored one goal from seven chances with that first-half performance.

Danny Graham celebrates after scoring the late equalizer for Swansea

All Smiles: Graham wheels away after scoring the last minute goal

aston

'It was a great performance – it could have been 4-0 after 12 minutes – but we know how it is when you don't take chances.

'It means one mistake, one free-kick, one corner or whatever it is and the game is back level, and that is what happened at the end of the first half.

'They had only been near our goal two or three times in the first 45 minutes and we gave Villa belief they could come from behind and get something out of the game.

'If we had got a second or third we would maybe be sitting here talking about a 5-0 win.'

Laudrup was also disappointed his side were not awarded a penalty just before the hour mark.

Joe Bennett was penalised for handball on the left-side of his own area as he blocked Angel Rangel.

But referee Mark Halsey only awarded Swansea a free-kick on the edge of the box when the ball had appeared to strike Bennett just inside.

When asked if he thought it was a penalty, Laudrup said: 'Yeah of course, both of his feet are on the line and the hand is inside, I think the line is still part of the box so there was no doubt about it.

'It was a clear penalty but it was not given and that's that, we have to go on.'

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert calls Martin O"Neill for advice

Phone a friend! Lambert admits calling former Villa boss O'Neill for advice

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 14 October 2012

Struggling Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has admitted seeking advice from former boss Martin O'Neill in his bid to kick-start the Villans' season.

Lambert worked under O'Neill between 200-2005 when he was captain at Celtic and the bond they forged then is helping the Villa boss through a tricky spell.

The club have won just one of their seven Barclays Premier League encounters this season and Lambert has conceded he will turn to O'Neill for more help.

Helping hand: Lambert has admitted to calling his old buddy O'Neill

Helping hand: Lambert has admitted to calling his old buddy O'Neill

He told the Birmingham Mail: 'In management terms I am still very young, I’ll make mistakes hands down, but as long as I can learn from them.

'I phone the gaffer because he’s been in it longer than me and I always think if I could get a smudge of his success, just a little bit, I’ll be doing all right.

'There have been times when I’ve phoned him up for advice, and I spoke to him before I came. He said it is a brilliant club, with a massive fan base and never dissuaded me one bit. Not one iota.

'I think he had a good time here, had a lot of success and had the place absolutely rocking, so if I need help I’ll definitely give him a call. I don’t have any problem making mistakes – I just need to learn from them.

'There are certain times when I'll need a bit of help and I'll phone him up and ask “can you help”.'

Trophy haul: O'Neill knows what it takes to succeed at the top

Trophy haul: O'Neill knows what it takes to succeed at the top

Roberto Di Matteo delighted with Chelsea performance

Di Matteo delight as Torres bags a goal in dominant display against Villa

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 31 March 2012

Chelsea interim boss Roberto Di Matteo hailed a 'fantastic performance' by his side as a 4-2 win at Aston Villa bolstered their Champions League hopes.

Fernando Torres scored his first Barclays Premier League goal for six months to put the icing on a sixth win in eight games under Di Matteo.

The Blues looked to be cruising as Daniel Sturridge and Branislav Ivanovic put them 2-0 in front, only for Villa to equalise through goals from James Collins and Eric Lichaj.

That's why they call him 'two-goal': Branislav Ivanovic struck twice against the Villans

That's why they call him 'two-goal': Branislav Ivanovic struck twice against the Villans

However, Ivanovic's second goal of the game and then Torres' injury-time finish closed the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham to two points.

Di Matteo said: 'I thought we were strong, dominated and controlled the game apart from the five minutes when Villa scored two goals.

'Apart from that we had many chances and it was a shame we could not kill off the game earlier, but it was another fantastic performance.

'All the remaining games are massively important and we have done all we could do to put pressure on the sides above us in the Premier League.'

Torres had last scored in the league
on September 24 against Swansea – he was also sent off – and Di Matteo
added: 'I have always said it doesn't matter who scores.

Happy: Roberto Di Matteo was pleased with the side's performance

Happy: Roberto Di Matteo was pleased with the side's performance

'Fernando has been providing goals for others and now he has scored as well. It was a tremendous goal.'

Di Matteo will check on the fitness of
defender David Luiz (ankle ligaments) and striker Didier Drogba – who
was ruled out at Villa Park with a foot injury – ahead of the Champions
League game with Benfica on Wednesday.

Villa
boss Alex McLeish felt his side deserved some tangible reward from the
game, despite being without eight senior players through illness or
injury.

He said: 'I don't think we were second best. Chelsea had their moments and have world-class players, but we got in their faces.

'To get back to 2-2 was a brilliant
effort, the desire we showed was fantastic. But we paid for not being
able to defend at set pieces which is frustrating.'

McLeish
took heart from the performance of his young players, adding: 'There
was great encouragement there. It was a challenge to see how they did on
the big stage and they did not let themselves down.'

Aston Villa 1 Everton 1: Bent strike not enough for Villans as Anichebe leads Toffees fightback

Aston Villa 1 Everton 1: Bent strike not enough for Villans as Anichebe leads Toffees fightback

Everton substitute Victor Anichebe enjoyed another good day in the West Midlands by rescuing a point for his side in the Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa.

Anichebe had come off the bench to net a last gasp winner against West Brom at the Hawthorns on New Year's Day after a lengthy injury lay-off.

Sharp shooter: Everton's Victor Anichebe celebrates his equaliser

Sharp shooter: Everton's Victor Anichebe celebrates his equaliser

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Warnock (Keane 81), Dunne, Collins, Clark, Ireland, Albrighton, Petrov, Bent, Agbonlahor Subs not used: Guzan, Cuellar, N'Zogbia, Delph, Bannan, Gardner

Scorer: Bent 56

Yellow card: Albrighton

Everton: Howard, Baines, Heitinga, Neville, Duffy, Gibson (Bilyatedinov 84), Drenthe (Anichebe 61), Cahill, Fellaini, Saha (Stracqualursi 88), Donovan Subs not used: Mucha, McFadden, Gueye, Vellios

Scorer: Anichebe 69

Yellow card: Fellaini

Ref: Mark Clattenburg

Attendance: 31,853

Villa striker Darren Bent's seventh goal of the campaign had broken the deadlock but the Toffees deserved their equaliser.

Alex McLeish's side at least ended
their run of four successive home defeats with Stephen Ireland having
one of his best games in midfield.

But their star performer was recalled keeper Shay Given who had been sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring injury.

He justified his instant return to action in place of Brad Guzan with several fine saves.

Everton were well worthy of a share of the spoils with Landon Donovan impressing on the right of midfield.

Villa were the first to threaten after Bent made a probing run towards the Everton box and was brought down by John Heitinga.

Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov's 25 yard free-kick contained plenty of power and was fisted away by the diving Tim Howard.

Villa were the more purposeful in the
early stages and Marc Albrighton's shot was blocked after Alan Hutton
had teed up an opportunity.

Everton came more into the game and
new signing Darron Gibson's flighted pass picked out a run into the
Villa area from Tim Cahill but his first touch let him down.

Out of luck: But Landon Donovan did provide the assist for Everton's goal

Out of luck: But Landon Donovan did provide the assist for Everton's goal

Given made an excellent save away to his left to keep out a Louis Saha glancing header from a Leighton Baines free-kick.

He then had to turn aside a misdirected header from his own defender Stephen Warnock from a Royston Drenthe centre.

Drenthe made a crucial interception
at the far post, tracking back inside his own area to deny Albrighton
following a cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Good point: Everton boss David Moyes looks on

Good point: Everton boss David Moyes looks on

Everton appealed in vain for a penalty after Hutton appeared to pull back Saha as he attacked a Donovan centre.

Marouane Fellaini became the first
player to be yellow carded after 35 minutes for bringing down Stephen
Ireland after he had dispossessed the Everton player.

Villa finished the first half
strongly and Bent headed over from a Warnock centre four and Howard
parried a curling effort from Agbonlahor around the post.

Bent out of shape: Darren Bent celebrates his goal with Stephen Ireland (right)

Bent out of shape: Darren Bent celebrates his goal with Stephen Ireland (right)

Given made his third fine save of the game at the start of the second period after Collins brought down Drenthe.

Baines' curling free-kick found
Fellaini unmarked at the far post and his powerful header was blocked by
the Republic of Ireland keeper.

Howard parried a shot over his shoulder from Bent before the Villa striker broke the deadlock after 56 minutes.

Albrighton's centre was only half cleared and Ireland poked the ball across the box for Bent to net from close range.

Back at Villa: Robbie Keane came on as a substitute

Back at Villa: Robbie Keane came on as a substitute

It was his seventh goal of the campaign.

Howard then held onto a header from the former Sunderland player from another Ireland centre.

Moyes responded by bringing on striker Victor Anichebe in place of Drenthe after 61 minutes.

Hutton had a volley deflected wide after more good play by Ireland and a cross from Albrighton was headed over by Agbonlahor.

But Anichebe had been on the pitch
only eight minutes when he brought Everton level. Donovan supplied the
telling pass and Anichebe kept his cool to slip the ball past Given.

McLeish introduced loan signing Robbie Keane with 10 minutes remaining in place of Warnock with Clark reverting to left-back.

Petrov had a shot deflected wide and Bent had a header punched away by Howard.