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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 16:55 GMT
Wigan 1-2 Aston Villa
By John Sinnott

Gabriel Agbonlahor (r)
Agbonlahor scores his seventh goal of the season
Aston Villa came from behind to hand Wigan their first defeat in four games.

Titus Bramble outmuscled Martin Laursen at a corner to thump a header into the net and give Wigan a deserved lead.

But Villa, who last lost away from home back in August, pulled level early in the second half when Curtis Davies angled a header past Chris Kirkland.

Villa's winner showcased the skills of their emerging young players as Ashley Young teed up the ball for Gabriel Agbonlahor to flick home a header.

Wigan initially mastered the testing conditions - a rutted pitch and blustery wind - more competently than Villa and deserved to go in at the interval ahead.

Luis Antonio Valencia was particularly impressive for Wigan on their right wing in the opening period and he gave Wilfred Bouma all sorts of problems.

606: DEBATE

In the second half, those two had a minor spat after a Bouma tackle angered the Ecuador international, whose influence waned.

Villa had to rejig their team after just 11 minutes when Luke Moore replaced John Carew, who was injured after being tackled by Paul Scharner.

The loss of Carew saw Villa struggle to hold up the ball in attack and it took them well over half an hour before they threatened the Wigan goal.

By then Wigan were in front as Ryan Taylor won and took the corner that enabled Bramble to power a header past Scott Carson after he got to the ball ahead of Laursen.

Shaun Maloney hinted at better things to come from Villa when he forced the first save of the game as Kirkland moved quickly across his line to gather the former Celtic forward's shot.

Moments later, Young might have done better when he picked up the ball at the far post but the Villa winger slashed widely with his shot.

Villa's equaliser also came from a corner as Davies sent an arcing header past Kirkland, with Denny Laandzat unable to clear the ball on the line.

If Bramble's career has had something of a topsy-turvy profile, Davies has had a similarly up-and-down season.

On loan from West Brom it was his first goal for Villa as he made his first full Premier League start for Martin O'Neill's side.

Davies had a disastrous debut for Villa in the Carling Cup defeat by Leicester, afterwards comparing himself to a "pub player", but he can allow himself a toast for that goal.

His strike emboldened Villa and the speed of Young and Agbonlahor began to unsettle Wigan.

Young's run and cross for Villa's second was quite superb - the former Watford winger skipped past Valencia and Mario Melchiot with nonchalant ease - and Agbonlahor's delicate headed finish was just as noteworthy.


  • Wigan manager Steve Bruce:

  • "We deserved something from that game.

    "Both sets of players deserve a pat on the back for the effort and endeavour they've put in.

    "They were atrocious conditions out there. There is nothing worse than that, with horrible, swirling wind, lashing rain and a poor pitch."

  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill on Curtis Davies' performance:

  • "His performance was 5,000 times better than against Leicester.

    "It was a great effort from him, in particular as he has been waiting around for a while now.

    "He can do it, and I hope he is here for the long haul."


    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Landzaat (Olembe 80), Brown, Taylor, Sibierski (Aghahowa 63), Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Granqvist, Skoko.

    Booked: Bramble.

    Goals: Bramble 28.

    Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Davies, Bouma, Maloney (Gardner 60), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young (Petrov 90), Carew (Moore 11), Agbonlahor.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Harewood.

    Booked: Agbonlahor.

    Goals: Davies 55, Agbonlahor 70.

    Att: 18,806

    Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Gabriel Agbonlahor 8.03 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.


    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Landzaat (Olembe 80), Brown, Taylor, Sibierski (Aghahowa 63), Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Granqvist, Skoko.

    Booked: Bramble.

    Goals: Bramble 28.

    Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Davies, Bouma, Maloney (Gardner 60), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young (Petrov 90), Carew (Moore 11), Agbonlahor.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Harewood.

    Booked: Agbonlahor.

    Goals: Davies 55, Agbonlahor 70.

    Att: 18,806

    Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

  • SEE ALSO
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Saturday's football photos
    29 Dec 07 |  Football
    Live - Premier League
    29 Dec 07 |  Premier League


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