Saturday 30 January 2010, 3:00pm at Craven Cottage, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Aston Villa
Aston Villa
Agbonlahor 40', 44'

23' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Zoltán Gera
Off:Simon Davies

64' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:David Elm
Off:Erik Nevland

73' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Bjorn Helge Riise
Off:Stephen Kelly

40' Goal

Gabriel Agbonlahor

44' Goal

Gabriel Agbonlahor

77' Yellow Card

Emile Heskey Card was given for a foul

90'+2 Yellow Card

Ashley Young Card was given for a foul

Both teams had gone four league games without a win, but despite a bright start from Fulham it was Aston Villa that claimed the three points and put an end to Fulham’s 11-game unbeaten run at home.

With the sun shining down on Craven Cottage, Fulham promised much early on, with the Whites creating the best of the opening chances with Bobby Zamora, Damien Duff and the returning Simon Davies all testing the Villa goal inside 10 minutes.

It was a positive start indeed for the hosts, but it wasn’t long before Villa started to show the type of football that has won them so many admirers this season with Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner looking lively on the ball.

This week Villa manager Martin O’Neill had described his side’s run of forthcoming fixtures as a “make or break” phase of their season and his players looked intent on showing they were up for the challenge.

Stewart Downing crossed for Heskey who could only move Mark Schwarzer into a routine stop, before the Australian goalkeeper was forced into a smart low save to deny Ashley Young following Milner’s clever pass.

Having missed the majority of the season through injury, it had been a welcome return for Davies but the Welsh international’s contribution was cut short with the midfielder limping off and replaced by Zoltan Gera.

Within moments of coming on Gera had a close-range shot blocked by James Collins, while Danny Murphy was snuffed out on the edge of the box by Stiliyan Petrov’s desperate lunge.

With little more than 30 minutes gone Schwarzer made a super save to deny Villa captain Petrov, with the Bulgarian meeting Ashley Young’s pin-point cross with a brave header.

At the end other end Erik Nevland almost took advantage when Friedel spilled Gera’s hopeful strike from distance, but the American shot-stopper just managed to claw the ball back.

Buoyed by that chance Fulham pushed forward again and opened the visiting defence with Zamora breaking free. Unfortunately his shot was deflected over following Richard Dunne’s timely intervention.

From the resulting corner Chris Baird went close with a stooping header, and after a goal-mouth scramble Villa managed to clear the ball to safety.

From that the visitors broke forward and when they won a corner down the right, Petrov’s delivery was turned in by Agbonlahor whose clever header had Schwarzer well-beaten with four minutes of the first half remaining.

Fulham replied almost immediately and when Duff was upended on the edge of the Villa box, Murphy’s resulting free-kick curled narrowly wide.

However, within seconds Villa were on the attack again and when the ball fell to Agbonlahor just inside the Fulham box, the striker kept his nerve and curled in a delightful left-footed strike beyond the reach of Schwarzer to double the visitors’ lead and nab his 10th league goal of the season.

After the break, Villa continued to impress with Ashley Young and Downing swapping flanks and Agbonlahor’s pace stretching play.

One such moment of play saw Downing drill in a low strike from the left while Schwarzer had to be alert to get to the ball before one Agbonlahor burst of pace.

Approaching the hour mark, Murphy’s teasing lofted pass found Gera at the back post, and the Hungarian did well to bring the ball down and force a sprawling save from Friedel, with Hangeland heading the subsequent corner over the bar.

Fulham certainly began to see more of the ball in the second-half, but for all their possession the Whites just could not make the breakthrough in the final third with half chances falling for both Nevland and Zamora.

The latter did well to tee up Gera on the edge of the Villa box on 67 minutes, with the midfielder’s strike forcing another corner from which 20-year-old Chris Smalling almost diverted home with an angled header.

Substitute David Elm did have the ball in the net after 75 minutes doing well to slide home Gera’s delicate cross, but the Swede’s cool finish was ruled offside – a decision that looked close to call.

Sensing that they may well find that elusive breakthrough the Whites pushed forward intently with Zamora doing much to unsettle the Villa back four.

A fantastic cross from Bjorn Helge Riise led to another goal mouth scramble and when the ball rolled to Elm, Dunne did just enough to turn the ball out of play. Hangeland rose highest to the resulting corner but the Norwegian’s header arrowed wide.

It was a brave final 15 minutes for the hosts who deserved a goal for their late endeavour, but there would be few that begrudge the visitors their points with O’Neill’s side showing the type of form that could make it a season to remember for the Villans.

The visitors face fellow UEFA Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United next, while Roy Hodgson’s side have the chance to bounce back on Wednesday evening when they face Portsmouth at the Cottage before travelling to Bolton Wanderers in seven days' time.  

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 30 January 2010
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Attendance: 25,408

Referee: Lee Mason


Line-up: Schwarzer; Hughes, Hangeland, Smalling, Kelly (Bjorn Helge Riise 73'); Davies (Gera 23'), Baird, Murphy, Duff; Zamora, Nevland (Elm 64')

Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Stoor, Greening, Dikgacoi

Aston Villa

Line-up: Friedel; Young, Collins, Dunne, Cuéllar; Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing; Agbonlahor, Heskey

Unused substitutes: Guzan, Davies, Shorey, Beye, Sidwell, Delph, Delfouneso

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Chelsea 22 51
2 Manchester United 23 50
3 Arsenal 23 49
4 Tottenham Hotspur 24 42
5 Liverpool 24 41
6 Aston Villa 23 40
7 Manchester City 21 38
8 Birmingham City 23 34
9 Everton 23 32
10 Blackburn Rovers 24 28
11 Fulham 23 27
12 Stoke City 21 25
13 Sunderland 22 23
14 Wigan Athletic 22 22
15 West Ham United 23 21
16 Bolton Wanderers 22 21
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 21
18 Burnley 22 20
19 Hull City 23 20
20 Portsmouth 21 15
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Mark Schwarzer
  • 18Aaron Hughes
  • 5Brede Hangeland
  • 26Chris Smalling
  • 2Stephen Kelly
  • 29Simon Davies
  • 6Chris Baird
  • 13Danny Murphy
  • 16Damien Duff
  • 25Bobby Zamora
  • 10Erik Nevland
  • 19Pascal Zuberbühler
  • 22Fredrik Stoor
  • 11Zoltán Gera
  • 17Bjorn Helge Riise
  • 27Jonathan Greening
  • 34Kagisho Dikgacoi
  • 35David Elm
Aston Villa (4-4-2)
  • 1Brad Friedel
  • 2Luke Young
  • 6James Collins
  • 5Richard Dunne
  • 24Carlos Cuéllar
  • 7Ashley Young
  • 8James Milner
  • 19Stilian Petrov
  • 6Stewart Downing
  • 11Gabriel Agbonlahor
  • 18Emile Heskey
  • 1Brad Guzan
  • 15Curtis Davies
  • 21Nicky Shorey
  • 23Habib Beye
  • 4Steve Sidwell
  • 16Fabian Delph
  • 38Nathan Delfouneso