Hull City 0-2 Aston Villa (4/21/2010)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gabriel Agbonlahor
  • Martin O’Neill’s Side Beat Tigers To Keep Fourth Place Finish Alive
By Joshua Hayward

Aston Villa overcame Hull in a hard fought match to leapfrog Liverpool into sixth place and pile the pressure on Iain Dowie's team thanks to a first half Gabriel Agbonlahor strike and a second half James Milner penalty

With both sides looking to secure a victory in order to achieve their specific target, avoiding relegation for Hull and claiming fourth spot for Villa, it was evident from the off that the hosts were looking to give nothing away too early.

As expected, it was Villa that settled down the quickest and they were rewarded with the first chance of the game after a clumsy tackle on Gabriel Agbonlahor from former Villa man George Boateng. James Milner squared the free kick to Stuart Downing who centred for Carlos Cuellar but the defender's header was too tame to trouble Matt Duke in the Hull net.

With Hull allowing Villa plenty of possession and only pressing when the visitors entered the host's half, the Midland-based club kept hold of the ball and looked to attack down the wings.

Hull's 4-5-1 formation didn't help their cause either as they were unable to contain the ball after winning it back from the opposition. When they did have the ball in their possession it was often played up field toward the tall Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink who failed to hold it up which inevitably resulted in Villa to start up another attack.

Just as Hull finally got into the game after a smart attack in the shape of the talismanic Jimmy Bullard, Villa went up the other end and took the lead.

Paul McShane's poor attempt at a clearance cannoned straight off the back of John Carew and into the feet of Agbonlahor who managed to get the ball out of his feet to sublimely curl the ball past the Hull stopper and two defenders on the line.

Villa enjoyed a few minutes of possession after the goal but were then pegged back for some considerable time after Hull's first real chance of the game resulted in numerous consecutive corners.

Hull had failed to score past Villa in the league since 1987 and came so very close but were denied by Brad Friedel in the Villa goal. Cuellar was caught on the ball by Boateng who dismissed him with ease and strolled forward down the left flank. The midfielder then crossed for Vennegoor of Hesselink who fired straight at Brad Friedel but the ball fell into the path of Kevin Kilbane. The Irishman struck the ball first-time and again Friedel was equal to it but could only parry it out. Again it fell to Kilbane who fired the ball at goal but it was deflected over the bar by James Collins.

With Hull oozing in confidence after the sustained amount of pressure, the game opened up and the hosts gained the initiative, attacking fluently throughout the Villa half but were unable to break down their defence.

The hosts continued to pressure the opposition as the claret and blue's took their foot off the gas, much to manager Martin O'Neill's disgust who voiced his concerns in his usual manner. And after some stern words to his players, Villa again picked up but really struggled to create anything that troubled the Hull stopper.

Hull emerged from the tunnel first and looked keen to get the second under way. The Tigers kicked off and immediately picked up from where they left off in the first half by attacking the Villa defence. They were rewarded with a throw-in deep in the visitors' half and from that, nearly grabbed an equaliser.

Ibrahima Sonko launched the ball into the Villa box and after the defence had failed to clear it, Steven Mouyokolo snatched at the ball which cannoned off his opposite foot before Friedel comfortably tipped the ball over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Richard Dunne and Vennegoor of Hesselink challenged for the ball and both clashed heads. Dunne was sent for stitches but the Dutch striker lay still for a number of minutes before being stretchered off in a neck brace. He was replaced by Jozy Altidore.

After a large stoppage in play, Villa nearly doubled their lead after some untidy play from the hosts. After receiving the ball deep in his own half, McShane attempted to take the ball past Carew and after failing, he attempted a back pass to Andy Dawson. The back pass was misplaced and Duke had to rush out to clear but it fell straight to Stiliyan Petrov. The Bulgarian attempted a speculative effort on goal which went a long way wide.

In typical fashion of the game, Hull then went down the other end and again could have had an equaliser after another long throw from Sonko, but Mouyokolo's header went inches over.

With just over 70 minutes on the clock, Carew then made a fantastic break into the Hull half and squared the ball to Milner who was brought down by Boateng inside the penalty area. Mike Dean was given no other choice than to award a penalty which Milner converted with relative ease, sending Duke the wrong way.

With the the thought of relegation looming, Hull started to push more men forward in the hope of getting back into the game. Substitute Geovanni led the attack and each time he received the ball, he looked to attack down the left.

It was obvious for all to see that Hull's urgency was still there but they looked devoid of ideas as Villa's class began to tell.

After the lengthy stoppage during the second half, the fourth official displayed 10 minutes of added time to give Hull a glimmer of hope, but they were unable to find the Wigan-like comeback needed to get anything out of the game.


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