Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: West Ham 1 Aston Villa 2

Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a dramatic stoppage time winner as Aston Villa reached the traditional safety target of 40 points, while putting West Ham United deep in danger.

West Ham scored after only two minutes through Robbie Keane, but once Darren Bent equalised in the first-half, Villa were the better side and missed a raft of chances before substitute Agbonlahor headed home from close range in the 91st minute.

West Ham had declared this game a celebration of “The Best of British” but it was an Irishman who got them off to a flying start when Robbie Keane scored after only two minutes. Villa’s defence failed to clear a corner twice, and when Thomas Hitzlsperger headed the ball back in, Keane received it in an onside position with his back to goal, swivelled, and hit his shot past Brad Friedel from close range.

That gave the Hammers a confidence boost, and they looked like scoring a second. Luke Young had to make a diving challenge to prevent Carlton Cole scoring after Keane set him in on goal, and the England striker was then denied only when Friedel went charging out of his area to clear.

Cole was also denied a goalscoring chance when Richard Dunne barged him over just inside the penalty area, but referee Mark Halsey waved away West Ham’s claims for a foul.

Cole was thriving on the service he was getting, and had another low shot turned round the post by Friedel in the 21st minute.

But then Villa started to get back into the game. Ashley Young’s long shot was held by Robert Green at the second attempt, and Darren Bent was unlucky to have an effort ruled out when he headed home Stewart Downing’s cross in the 24th minute, but was penalised harshly for a push on Lars Jacobsen.

But Bent was not to be denied too long. In the 36th minute, West Ham were architects of their own misfortune as Mark Noble dithered on the ball in his own area and was tackled by Emile Heskey. Ashley Young fed the loose ball to his namesake Luke, whose curling cross was ideal for Bent to steer past Green with a well-placed header.

Villa really took the game to West Ham after the break, with Bent and then Kyle Walker forcing good saves from Green. The home side were penned inside their own penalty area for long spellls, and Cole had to clear a Richard Dunne header off the line. Ashley Young had a vicious, swerving free-kick tipped around the post, and another fierce Bent shot was deflected narrowly wide. West Ham were struggling to get back into the game, and were not helped when Gary O’Neil was taken off on a stretcher with what looked like an ankle injury.

Still Villa pressed, and Ashley Young shot high and wide from a good position. Bent should have scored another goal after a great run and cutback from Walker, but fluffed his shot from close range.

Ashley Young then curled a shot just wide of Green’s far post, before Bent headed wide and Nigel Reo-Coker had a long shot saved. The Hammers were reduced to attacking on the break, but Hitzlesperger hit one shot well wide and Cole hooked another over the bar.

But then came the killer blow, as Ashley Young curled in a cross from the right and Agbonlahor, who had only been on for 14 minutes, headed past Green from close range to send the Villa fans into raptures.

West Ham’s supporters, meanhile, looked concerned – as well they might be with games at Chelsea and Manchester City to come.

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