Cardiff did little to impress at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon, putting few shots on target and letting the hosts take the majority of the chances. Eventually, those chances paid off, as Aston Villa finally, after 7.5 hours without a goal, got one in the back of the net. Villa also kept a clean sheet and finally recorded a home win, so there was plenty to celebrate at Villa Park today. Well, unless you’d traveled in from Wales.
Despite the result, there was little to surprise in the first half between Aston Villa and Cardiff City — at least, not if you’re a fan of the Villa. With Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann both out with injury, it was Libor Kozak starting up front alongside Christian Benteke, while Aleksandar Tonev sat just behind. But neither forward looked particularly impressive for the claret and blue.
The match started with Kozak forcing David Marshall into a save, but the flag was already up on the Czech striker. His blushes deepened in the 10th minute, when Kozak did his very best to head the ball into the net…into the net past Brad Guzan. Now, he may not wear claret and blue, but Guzan still does happen to be the Aston Villa keeper.
But Tonev did his very best to make Kozak look good by comparison. The Bulgarian is always fond of a shot from distance, seeming to enjoy putting the ball into the second tier of the stands. Just before the interval, Tonev elected to fire another high ball far past Marshall’s goal, despite Benteke being free inside the area.
Despite the hosts’ inability to threaten Marshall’s goal, or even to cause Marshall to move more than an inch or two, Cardiff went into the second half hardly looking like they wanted to get all three points. It wasn’t until the 70th minute that the Bluebirds really looked lively. A nice little interchange of passes set up a good opportunity for Craig Bellamy, but Yacuba Sylla was there with a vital interception before the Welshman was able to trouble Guzan.
That minor threat must have finally spurred Villa into action because, after an incredible 441 minutes without a goal, the hosts finally put the ball into the back of the net. The correct net. Gary Mendel brought down Leandro Bacuna outside the area, and Bacuna himself stood over the resulting free kick. The young Dutchman launched an absolute stunner, swerving around the wall and into the back of the net. Again, Marshall didn’t move — but this time, it’s because he just had no chance to stop the ball.
As if that weren’t surprising enough, less than ten minutes later, Kozak doubled Villa’s lead. It was from a header, of course, but this time the ball was toward the correct net. The forward got on the end of a headed pass from substitute Matthew Lowton to score his second in a Villa shirt.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, El Ahmadi (Lowton 74), Westwood, Sylla, Tonev, Benteke, Kozak (Bowery 88)
Subs not used: Steer, Helenius, Herd, Johnson, Robinson
Goals: Bacuna 76′; Kozak 84′
Cardiff City: Marshall, Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Odemwingie (Campbell 55), Gunnarsson (Mutch 65), Cowie, Theophile-Catherine, Bellamy (Maynard 82)
Subs not used: Lewis, Hudson, Kim, Noone