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Villa thriller!

Posted on 15 March 2009  - 12:00

Jermaine Jenas and Darren Bent goals - four minutes into each half - defeated Aston Villa 2-1 in an absorbing encounter at Villa Park on Sunday.

Villa thriller!

Jermaine Jenas and Darren Bent goals - four minutes into each half - defeated Aston Villa 2-1 in an absorbing encounter at Villa Park on Sunday.

The substitute John Carew did reduce the arrears late on but the team dug in and showed the character to emerge victorious in front of a crowd of 41,205.

The game exploded into life on four minutes when Aaron Lennon skinned Luke Young down the right and fizzed in a cross that Brad Friedel could not deal with and Jenas was on hand to nod home in front of a stunned Holte End.

Stilian Petrov did his best to level matters after a spell of Spurs pressure following the breakthrough, unleashing a dipping drive that did not dip quite enough for the liking of the Bulgarian and cleared the crossbar.

Urgency was injected into Villa's attacking play, in particular down the left flank being worked by Ashley Young, who seemed to be afforded an awful lot of space by Didier Zokora at right back. From one of this sorties he managed to square in the direction of Gareth Barry and Heurelho Gomes was called on to field.

It was an open encounter and the pace of the Villa front two, plus Young out wide, was the cause of some concern. Zokora was booked for a reckless challenge on Young and the Ivorian was having a torrid start to his afternoon.

Jenas did his best to again rattle Friedel, but a deflection took the sting out of his effort as we approached the final ten minutes of the half. Zokora was then replaced by a more natural full-back in the shape of Vedran Corluka, a decision based purely no doubt on the problems being posed by Young.

A missed header by Carlos Cuellar gave Darren Bent the chance to speed down the right flank, but his centre in the direction of Keane was intercepted at the last by Luke Young before Jenas employed some clever play to release Luka Modric in the area and it took a strong one-handed block by Friedel to avoid a doubling of our advantage in the moments before half-time.

Despite the advantage, Harry Redknapp will have felt there was much to improve on during the interval, not least some increased security at the back, with a warning being provided by Emile Heskey heading against the crossbar just before the half-time whistle sounded.

The deficit for Villa was doubled four minutes into the second half when a run from Lennon teed up Wilson Palacios for a shot that Friedel did well to block but could not gather. Keane went for goal from an acute angle on the rebound and, with Friedel beaten, Bent was on hand to tap home at the far post.

Sustained pressure followed with the home side rocked back on their collective heels, the pace of Lennon and Bent was the feature of this half as opposed to Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Martin O'Neill made the bold move of swapping a central defender for a burly striker - John Carew replacing Zat Knight.

Modric was next to the fore though, drilling goalwards and once again forcing Friedel to show strong hands, while Gomes did well to get his body in the way of a Petrov shot that kicked up right in front of him.

It was end to end stuff as the game progressed, Villa probably had too many set pieces for comfort but Gomes was always quick to take the pressure off his defenders by coming and claiming - occasionally punching.

Keane stung the palms of Friedel again as the noise from the Spurs travelling thousands echoed around the stadium.

Six minutes from time the home fans came to life when a run and raking cross from James Milner was met at the far post by the head of the giant Carew, who planted the ball into the top corner of the net.

It placed renewed vigour into the efforts of Villa and nervous minutes where endured before referee Mr Bennett called time to make it a fourth away win of the season and lift us up to 11th in the table.