Of all people to score Aston Villa’s second 2nd-half goal in their last 21 matches and send them to a 2-1 win, it’s Alan Hutton.
He hadn’t scored in over four years, and never for Aston Villa, but he ended both those streaks with a striker’s finish 20 minutes from time to see out bottomfeeders Leicester City at Villa Park.
Things started with little in the match, but it would open up a bit after 10 minutes time.
Aston Villa has only allowed a pair of goals during their four-match unbeaten run, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan has been a reason why, but he was also to blame for Leicester’s opening goal. A shot from distance off the foot of Riyad Mahrez was powerful enough that Guzan couldn’t cleanly collect, and his bobble fell to Leonardo Ulloa, who bagged his first goal in 10 matches.
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The American keeper will no doubt point to a slight deflection off the foot of Cieran Clark as Mahrez’s shot came through, but he’ll rue not performing better.
But the lowest-scoring team in English league football wouldn’t stay down for long as a set-piece provided the service for the equalizer. A spot-on delivery from a free kick by Ashley Westwood allowed Clark to follow the ball and beat Esteban Cambiasso to nod home with his head just four minutes after going behind.
An otherwise even but chanceless first half came to an end with just those two big moments, despite some possessional domination by the home side.
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Villa had the best chance to go in front after the break, but Tom Cleverley lashed his service from Christian Benteke over the bar from a tight angle. Benteke then had one of his own to bury, but after being played through on goal he was thwarted by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
The winner would come 20 minutes from time, as Gabriel Agbonlahor burst down the left-hand flank and found Benteke in the middle. The Belgian then found Hutton all alone on the far side of the pitch, and the defender finished like a seasoned striker past Schmeichel for the lead.
The goal was Hutton’s first since November 2010 in a Premier League match against Bolton while he was with Tottenham Hotspur.
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Leicester City’s chances at points away from home got even worse when Paul Konchesky went over a tackle on Hutton with 10 minutes to go and stomped his ankle. Hutton didn’t take kindly to the challenge, and got in Konchesky’s face after the whistle and pushed the Foxes defender.
The referee had a decision to make, and he correctly showed Konchesky the straight red for violent conduct on his dangerous challenge, while giving Hutton yellow for his reaction. The sending off left Leicester City thin in their quest for an equalizer, and their biggest moments down the stretch came on a few brilliant saves by Schmeichel, including an incredible rejection of a Benteke header from point-blank range.
Aston Villa’s three points collected push them to 11th place in the Premier League table, while Leicester suffers its eighth defeat in its last 10 matches, and they remain bottom and four points back of safety.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho, Sanchez, Westwood (Richardson 44′), Cleverley (Grealish 62′), N’Zogbia (Bacuna 76′), Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Goals: Clark 17′, Hutton 71′
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Wasilewski, Moore, Konchesky; Mahrez, Cambiasso, James, Schlupp (Albrighton 78′); Vardy (Wood 66′), Ulloa (Nugent 46′).
Goals: Ulloa 13′
Discipline: Konchesky (straight red) 80′