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  • Westham 1-2 Aston Villa: Keane,Bent, Agbonlahor scored

    Substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor headed home a stoppage time winner as Aston Villa won 2-1 at West Ham to move up to ninth in the Premier League, on Saturday 16/04/2011.

    It was no more than Gerard Houllier's side deserved after overcoming a slow start to dominate the match.

    Robbie Keane had smashed West Ham in front in the second minute, but a Darren Bent header restored parity before the break.

    Villa really upped their game in the second period but it looked like they would be limited to just a point before Agbonlahor nodded in an Ashley Young cross to seal the points in second minute of stoppage time.

    It was a terrible day for West Ham, who lost Manuel da Costa and Gary O'Neil to injury during the match, and who drop to 19th with the defeat.

    West Ham took the lead after less than two minutes, when Keane scored his second goal for the club, and his first at Upton Park as a Hammer.

    The Villa players screamed for offside when the Irish captain was found free just outside the six-yard box by Thomas Hitzlsperger's header, but replays showed that Young, who had been defending the left post, had not stepped up quick enough, allowing Keane to smash home his close range finish.

    The Hammers continued to play the better stuff for the first 20 minutes or so, and at the end of that spell Carlton Cole nearly doubled their advantage when he chested down Mark Noble's long ball before putting a decent half-volley on target that Brad Friedel had to do well to push away.

    However, Villa slowly started to change the tide of the game and West Ham were forced to defend deeper and deeper.

    Bent first headed into the net in the 23rd minute but referee Mark Halsey rightly ruled it out as the England striker had climbed over Lars Jacobsen before nodding home.

    However, the £24 million man did manage to get his 14th Premier League goal of the season in the 37th minute but Villa needed to thank Noble as much as anyone for the goal.

    The West Ham midfielder dilly-dallied in possession in the box and that allowed Emile Heskey, handed a rare start, to steal possession. Ashley Young then skipped out of the box, teed up a cross for Luke Young, and Bent flashed a perfect header into the corner of the net.

    The first-half was pretty even stuff, but Villa dominated the second, with Stewart Downing down the right, and Ashley Young down the left, causing innumerable problems for the hosts, especially as the two wingers had such an imposing fulcrum in Bent linking everything together.

    West Ham, clearly missing the injured Scott Parker in the middle of the park, found themselves overrun time and time again but Villa just couldn't find that goal.

    Bent had a couple of efforts that went close, Robert Green had to make a superb save to tip away an Ashley Young free kick, and the Villa left-winger also came close when he curled an effort just wide of the target.

    West Ham offered little going forward, with the previously busy Keane fading badly as the match went on, and due to Da Costa and O'Neil's injuries, along with a poor performance from Victor Obinna, Avram Grant's had used all his substitutes up after just 62 minutes.
    Instead it was Houllier who was able to mix things up late on, bringing on Agbonlahor for the industrious if unspectacular Heskey, and the fresher, younger striker was there to head home the winner from close range after a lovely stood-up cross from Ashley Young just before the finish.

    The West Ham defending for the goal though was non-existent, as they struggled to reorganise moments after Stewart Downing had a shot batted away by Green.

    It was a cruel finish to the game for the home fans, but they could have no real complaints. Villa were much the better side and thoroughly deserved all three points.
    Seán Fay / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    West Ham United: Green, Jacobsen, da Costa, Upson, Bridge, O'Neil, Noble, Hitzlsperger, Keane, Cole, Obinna; Subs: Boffin, Gabbidon, Boa Morte, Spector, Ba, Hines, Piquionne
    Aston Villa: Friedel, Walker, Collins, Dunne, Luke Young, Ashley Young, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Downing, Bent, Heskey; Subs: Marshall, Pires, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Makoun, Clark, Cuellar


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