West Ham 1-2 Aston Villa: Last-gasp Agbonlahor strike earns priceless victory as Hammers return to the bottom three
Late header sees visitors come from behind to secure victory and pulls Gerard Houllier's men away from the relegation zone
By Mike Allen
Aston Villa came from a goal behind to secure victory over West Ham United thanks to a late goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor which sent the Hammers back into the bottom three of the Premier League.
Two teams with terrible defensive records set the stage for an entertaining game at Upton Park, which didn’t fail to deliver.
Robbie Keane opened the scoring after just two minutes after winning the Hammers an early corner. When Villa cleared the immediate danger, Thomas Hitzlsperger fired the ball back into the box and with Ashley Young playing Keane onside, the striker put his shot comfortably past Brad Friedel.
The Hammers were then dealt a blow when Manuel Da Costa was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Danny Gabbidon.
Carlton Cole was proving to be a handful for the Villa defence and he believed he had won a penalty when Richard Dunne pushed his arm into the striker’s back, although the referee didn’t agree.
But it was Villa who were appealing to the referee moments later when Darren Bent’s well placed header was disallowed for a push of Lars Jacobsen, following a great cross from Stuart Downing.
In the 36th minute Mark Noble gifted Bent another chance on the goal and when the striker beat Robert Green, this time the flag stayed down.
Noble had naively tried to take the ball past Ashley Young inside his own penalty area, but Young dispossessed the midfielder, passing to Luke Young who drilled the ball across goal where Bent turned his header past the West Ham keeper.
After a slow start, it was Villa who ended the half the better team and just minutes after the restart they almost took the lead when Bent evaded Matthew Upson to force an important save from Green to win a corner.
On target | Keane hits opener but ends up on the losing side after Villa comeback
Young’s corner was met by James Collins and only a late clearance from Cole forced the ball off the goal-line to keep the Hammers in the game, but Villa were on top.
The introduction of Demba Ba shortly after the hour mark put West Ham back in the game and the powerful striker made his presence felt among the Aston Villa defence.
The visitors unleashed a deluge of pressure on the Hammers and despite their dominance they were unable to find a goal for their efforts.
Carlton Cole had a fantastic opportunity to steal victory with just five minutes left when Green’s long goal kick evaded both Dunn and Friedel, Cole had an empty net to aim at but his volley was hit widely off target to the relief of the visitors.
As the game entered injury time Aston Villa were rewarded for their resilience and Ashley Young crossed to an unmarked Agbonlahor who headed past Robert Green to hand the visitors a well deserved late goal.
There was little a shell-shocked West Ham could do and Abgonlahor’s effort saw Villa pick up a second consecutive win and send Avram Grant’s men back into the bottom three.
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