Villa progress in Peace Cup with second half comeback

After losing to Malaga earlier in the competition, Villa were given a lifeline going into their match against Atlante, after the Mexican side beat Malaga 3-1. All that was required to continue into the semi-final was to win by two clear goals.

However, judging by the first 45 minutes of the game, this wasn’t going to be the case. After a relatively quiet start, Villa were a man and a goal down within minutes of each other. Stiliyan Petrov, captaining the side, left the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury on 19 minutes, and shortly afterwards Curtis Davies bundled a opposition cross past Brad Guzan.

Atlante looked dangerous, coming close to a second goal against two central defenders who looked as if they’d only just become acquainted with each other. A lazy pass from Davies to Carlos Cuellar, just too far in front of the Spaniard, was met with little effort to receive and rolled out of play, epitomizing their below-par first half performance.

It got worse. Around the half-hour mark a free kick given against Ashley Young did not impress manager Martin O’Neill. Never one to keep his feelings to himself, he decided to inform the Atlante player in question, as well as the referee, exactly what he thought about the decision, and was promptly sent to the stands.

But a glimmer of hope was provided by Marc Albrighton. John Carew’s header from Young’s free kick could only be parried by the keeper, leaving Petrov’s replacement to powerfully volley home.


Albrighton: Mature and convincing performance

 

Only 3 minutes into the second half and Villa were in front. Eric Lichaj’s long free kick was simply headed into the path of Carew, the big Norwegian taking advantage of some sloppy defending by Atlante.

This was a different side to the one that turned up for the first half; there was now more urgency, more desire, and more skill. Reo-Coker was tenacious in midfield, Young was causing all sorts of problems down the right hand side, Guzan looked solid in goal, and there were impressive individual performances from youngsters Lichaj and Albrighton.

In fact it was the latter who set up Villa’s third, and decisive goal. A superb, perfectly-timed low cross was played into Young, who headed home to provide Villa with a 3-1 victory and a ticket into the next round.

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