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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Fulham   0 - 2   Aston Villa

By Owen Phillips

Ashley Young (l) and Gabriel Agbonlahor
Agbonlahor (right) celebrates his second with Ashley Young

Gabriel Agbonlahor scored twice in three first-half minutes as Aston Villa beat Fulham to breathe new life into their quest for a top-four spot.

Agbonlahor outmuscled Chris Smalling to head the visitors ahead from Stiliyan Petrov's fine right-wing cross.

And the England man took advantage of some poor defending to turn Brede Hangeland and curl in a superb second.

Fulham dominated the second half with Zoltan Gera and David Elm going close but Villa held on.

Although the Londoners will consider themselves unfortunate not to have gained a point after a dominant second-half display, Villa will point to a professional first-half showing and some ruthless finishing.

Martin O'Neill's side may have beaten Blackburn in the Carling Cup semi-final to reach a cup final for the first time in a decade, but their league form has suffered an alarming recent dip.

The midweek goalless draw with Arsenal, although creditable, was Villa's fourth league game without a win or a goal in a spell where they have collected only two points.

O'Neill hails two-goal hero Agbonlahor

But after a dull opening 20 minutes, Villa started to show their quality against an injury-hit Fulham side who have now lost five successive Premier League matches.

The pace and trickery of Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing showed that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was far from fair in dismissing O'Neill's side as a long-ball team after their midweek meeting.

O'Neill was furious with Wenger's comments but with Petrov and James Milner pulling the strings in midfield and the defence looking comfortable, Villa began to get on top.

The damage was done in the closing stages of the first half and Agbonlahor's double allowed Villa to play on the break after the turnaround.

Villa led when quick thinking on the right wing allowed Petrov to cross and Agbonlahor got in front of Fulham's Manchester United-bound centre-half Smalling to nod the opener.

The visitors' second came just three minutes later when Carlos Cuellar's ball into feet inside the box saw Hangeland get the wrong side and Agbonlahor showed great composure to take a touch and curl the ball inside the far post.

Villa's double blow came just after Fulham's best spell of the first half.

606: DEBATE
the good villan - T.F.I aston villa.

Brad Friedel did well to stop a deflected effort and had to be alert to pounce at the feet of Erik Nevland to prevent the striker turning in the rebound.

And then Bobby Zamora seemed certain to stroke the home side ahead from Chris Baird's raking long cross-field pass only for Cuellar to race back and poke the ball over his own bar for a corner.

With Villa then happy to play on the break in the second half, Fulham started to dictate play but despite stacks of possession could not find a breakthrough.

Gera was denied by Friedel's excellent positioning, the American keeper getting his angles spot on to deny the Fulham midfielder from wide on the right.

The Cottagers thought they had pulled a goal back when substitute Elm produced a lovely volleyed finish from Gera's exquisite through-ball only to be denied by the assistant's flag.

Richard Dunne then threw himself in the way of another Elm effort and although Fulham continued to press, they were unable to avoid a first home defeat since September as Villa closed out the game.

The result may have got their Champions League dream back on track but their top-four credentials will be tested to the limit with games against Tottenham and Manchester United at the start of February.


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"We conceded two goals in a short space of time and at half-time it didn't seem that we deserved that.

Depleted Fulham 'lacked quality' - Hodgson

"I was concerned that we would lose our shape and you can face a catastrophe.

"We definitely dominated and took the game to them but ran up against a very solid defence and didn't create enough chances."

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"We had been in a very good run up until we played at the Emirates before Christmas but after that we should have beaten Liverpool and West Ham.

"There has been a lot made of the fact we haven't scored a goal in four games so it was nice to right that today. They are three very valuable points as we try to stay with the leading pack.

"We played very well. We were the team pressing in the first half and we got the goals which I think our play deserved.

"In the second half it was a case of sitting on what we had but we saw it through reasonably comfortably and I thought it was an excellent performance."

Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Fulham 0-2 Aston Villa FT
(HT 0-2)
    • Agbonlahor 40
    • Agbonlahor 44

    Fulham

    Substitutes

    Aston Villa

    Substitutes

    Ref: Lee MasonAtt: 25,408
    FULHAM
    ASTON VILLA

    Possession

    • Fulham 47%
    • Aston Villa 53%

    Attempts on target

    • Fulham 8
    • Aston Villa 6

    Attempts off target

    • Fulham 7
    • Aston Villa 3

    Corners

    • Fulham 9
    • Aston Villa 3

    Fouls

    • Fulham 10
    • Aston Villa 15
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:18 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
    • 90:00+1:44 Aaron Hughes takes the direct free kick.
    • 90:00+1:44 Booking Luke Young shown a yellow card.
    • 90:00+1:35 Bjorn Helge Riise fouled by Luke Young, the ref awards a free kick.
    • 88:18 Corner taken short by Stewart Downing.
    • 87:40 Unfair challenge on Emile Heskey by Chris Smalling results in a free kick. James Milner takes the free kick.
    • 85:36 Ashley Young challenges Bjorn Helge Riise unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
    • 84:26 Emile Heskey concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Smalling. Brede Hangeland takes the direct free kick.
    • 80:04 David Elm takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Bjorn Helge Riise from the right by-line, Header by Brede Hangeland from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
    • 79:23 Unfair challenge on Zoltan Gera by James Collins results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Danny Murphy from left channel, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar.
    • 78:34 Corner taken right-footed by Bjorn Helge Riise to the near post, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar.
    • 77:59 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Bjorn Helge Riise played to the near post, Carlos Cuellar manages to make a clearance.
    • 76:37 Mark Schwarzer restarts play with the free kick.
    • 76:37 Booking Emile Heskey receives a yellow card for dissent.
    • 76:06 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Smalling by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
    • 75:23 David Elm is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
    • 73:08 Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.
    • 73:08 Substitution Bjorn Helge Riise joins the action as a substitute, replacing Stephen Kelly.
    • 73:08 The referee gives a free kick against David Elm for handball.
    • 71:30 Bobby Zamora challenges Richard Dunne unfairly and gives away a free kick. Richard Dunne restarts play with the free kick.
    • 70:30 Foul by Ashley Young on Stephen Kelly, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Chris Baird.
    • 69:47 Unfair challenge on Aaron Hughes by Emile Heskey results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Aaron Hughes.
    • 67:33 Ashley Young produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 66:29 Corner taken by Damien Duff from the right by-line played to the near post, Chris Smalling takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
    • 66:06 Zoltan Gera takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
    • 64:30 Substitution David Elm comes on in place of Erik Nevland.
    • 63:06 Danny Murphy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stiliyan Petrov. Richard Dunne restarts play with the free kick.
    • 59:55 Ashley Young fouled by Zoltan Gera, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Ashley Young.
    • 59:06 Bobby Zamora produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand post.
    • 57:11 Damien Duff takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Brede Hangeland has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
    • 56:53 Zoltan Gera takes a shot. Save made by Brad Friedel.
    • Correction - 49:57 Stewart Downing takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
    • 49:57 Luke Young takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
    • 48:33 Foul by Luke Young on Zoltan Gera, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Chris Baird. Damien Duff takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance by Stiliyan Petrov.
    • 47:36 Free kick awarded for a foul by Emile Heskey on Brede Hangeland. Brede Hangeland takes the free kick.
    • 45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+1:11 The half-time whistle blows.
    • 45:00+0:12 The offside flag is raised against Gabriel Agbonlahor. Indirect free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
    • 44:52 Free kick awarded for a foul by Zoltan Gera on Stiliyan Petrov. Richard Dunne restarts play with the free kick.
    • 43:40 Assist on the goal came from Carlos Cuellar.
    • 43:40 GOAL - Gabriel AgbonlahorFulham 0 - 2 Aston Villa Gabriel Agbonlahor finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Fulham 0-2 Aston Villa.
    • 43:11 Chris Baird fouled by Gabriel Agbonlahor, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brede Hangeland.
    • 41:32 Foul by Stiliyan Petrov on Damien Duff, free kick awarded. Shot comes in from Danny Murphy from the free kick.
    • 39:25 Assist on the goal came from Stiliyan Petrov.
    • 39:25 GOAL - Gabriel AgbonlahorFulham 0 - 1 Aston Villa Gabriel Agbonlahor finds the net with a headed goal from inside the box. Fulham 0-1 Aston Villa.
    • 38:12 Erik Nevland is caught offside. Brad Friedel takes the indirect free kick.
    • 37:35 Corner taken by Damien Duff, Chris Baird takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
    • 36:09 Zoltan Gera takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
    • 34:29 Shot from close range by Stiliyan Petrov clears the bar.
    • 32:38 Luke Young takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by James Milner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Aaron Hughes.
    • 31:27 Unfair challenge on Richard Dunne by Erik Nevland results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Richard Dunne.
    • 29:41 Header by Erik Nevland from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
    • 26:59 Chris Smalling challenges Brad Friedel unfairly and gives away a free kick. Brad Friedel takes the free kick.
    • 26:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Bobby Zamora by Luke Young. Damien Duff crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel.
    • 23:46 Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
    • 23:46 Substitution Simon Davies leaves the field to be replaced by Zoltan Gera.
    • 23:46 The referee blows for offside.
    • 23:19 Ashley Young takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
    • 22:23 Erik Nevland gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Richard Dunne. Richard Dunne takes the free kick.
    • 19:08 Emile Heskey takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
    • 17:41 Stewart Downing concedes a free kick for a foul on Damien Duff. Danny Murphy crosses the ball in from the free kick, Stiliyan Petrov manages to make a clearance.
    • 16:27 Foul by Chris Baird on Stewart Downing, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by James Collins.
    • 15:41 Free kick awarded for a foul by Richard Dunne on Simon Davies. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Hughes.
    • 14:13 Erik Nevland is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
    • 13:45 Emile Heskey concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark Schwarzer. Mark Schwarzer takes the direct free kick.
    • 12:47 Corner taken by Stewart Downing from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Aaron Hughes.
    • 9:20 Brede Hangeland challenges Emile Heskey unfairly and gives away a free kick. Stiliyan Petrov takes the free kick.
    • 7:41 Simon Davies takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel. Damien Duff takes a short corner.
    • 6:00 Damien Duff takes a shot. Blocked by James Collins. Damien Duff takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
    • 4:55 Corner from right by-line taken by Damien Duff.
    • 4:34 Bobby Zamora takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in.
    • 2:33 Emile Heskey produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.
    • 1:51 Erik Nevland is caught offside. Free kick taken by Richard Dunne.
    • 0:00 The match has kicked off.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 30 Jan 2010 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Chelsea 23 38 54
    2 Man Utd 23 34 50
    3 Arsenal 23 34 49
    4 Tottenham 24 20 42
    5 Liverpool 24 16 41
    6 Aston Villa 23 13 40
    7 Man City 21 12 38
    8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
    9 Everton 23 -1 32
    10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
    11 Fulham 23 -2 27
    12 Stoke 21 -7 25
    13 Sunderland 22 -10 23
    14 Wigan 22 -23 22
    15 West Ham 23 -9 21
    16 Bolton 22 -15 21
    17 Wolves 23 -21 21
    18 Burnley 23 -23 20
    19 Hull 23 -26 20
    20 Portsmouth 21 -14 15

    see also
    Saturday football as it happened
    30 Jan 10 |  Football
    Saturday's football photos
    30 Jan 10 |  Football
    O'Neill's passion
    29 Jan 10 |  Football