VILLA 0 - 1 SUNDERLAND - MATCH REPORT
By Charlene Cole
Monday 24 Mar 2008 17:07:05
Browse all Aston Villa FansOnline articles
 
In a match that looked certain to end in a draw Chopra spoilt Villa’s chance of walking away with a point when he netted the winner seven minutes before time as he raced to latch onto a pass by Kieran Richardson, earning three important points for the struggling team and leaving Martin O’Neill’s men frustrated as the defeat puts a dent in their dreams of qualifying for Europe after collecting just two points in their last four games.

It was a disappointing afternoon at Villa Park as an under par Villa squad failed to deliver the goods. The home sides best chance of the game went to waste when Marlon Harewood missed the target when clean through in the second half.

 Roy Keane’s boys displayed signs of confidence as they fight for Premiership survival. This was seen as they showed their intent in attacking just as Villa did often in the first half.

 From the first whistle Villa attacked and posed early threats to their opponents. Gabriel Agbonlahor found Shaun Maloney in space on the left flank, though Maloney’s left footed drive was blocked by defender Jonny Evans in the second minute. Minutes later another Maloney effort was headed clear by Phillip Bardsley as Villa dominated.

 As Villa controlled early possession Black Cats defender Danny Collins half cleared a left wing centre shot from Agbonlahor and John Carew fired inches wide with an overhead shot.
 Sunderland started to retaliate down the opposing end as forward Roy O’Donovan had his shot deflected by Zat Knight resulting in a corner. Not long after O’Donovan was on the ball again having a missed chance when he fired over the bar after meeting Richardson’s low cross.

 Keeper Scott Carson was lucky not to be penalized after he failed to hold onto Collin’s cross when under pressure from striker Daryl Murphy. Replays showed Carson to be a yard outside the box when he handled the ball, fortunately referee Howard Webb waved play on.

 Later Sunderland were presented with a chance after Nigel Reo-Coker brought down Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead 30 yards out though Reid’s curling free kick drifted wide. Keeper Craig Gordon sprung into action again to blocking a shot from Carew. Soon after Sunderland saw red after being denied a penalty as referee Webb dismissed claims that Reo-Coker had handled in the box.

 After the interval Maloney got himself a rollicking from his chief O'Neill after he was dispossessed by Carlos Edwards who pushed forward only to drill his shot over the bar.
 
Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon clung to a low cross-shot from Agbonlahor before Marlon Harewood replaced his former West Ham team-mate Reo-Coker as Villa reverted to a 4-3-3 formation.

From then on Harewood almost made an impact to the scoreboard when he shrugged off the challenge of defender Nyron Nosworthy and flicked the ball wide of Craig Gordon but also wide of the far post. Agbonlahor shook off his marker to send a devastating low centre across the Sunderland six-yard box but no-one was there to apply that finishing touch.
 
But with seven minutes left Chopra sped past Knight flicking Richardson’s long ball past Carson into the net.

 Post match Villa boss Martin O'Neill told the BBC: "We failed to take any chances that came our way but you can't just point the finger at that. Our overall play was disappointing and it is my responsibility. Since we drew with Arsenal a fortnight ago we have been really disappointing.

 He added: "You would not expect us to collect only one point from our last two home games. I have to rectify it."

 Talking after his team’s first away victory of the season Sunderland boss Roy Keane said: "We have been unlucky in some away games - it is not as though we have been battered every week. We have played quite well without getting over the finishing line but here we achieved it.”

 He ended: "We played some decent stuff. Maybe we rode our luck a little bit but we got one clear-cut chance in the second half and managed to take it."

 Teams:
 Aston Villa Carson, Gardner, Knight, Laursen, Bouma, Maloney (Osbourne 74), Reo-Coker (Harewood 57), Barry, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
 Subs Not Used: Taylor, Salifou, Petrov.

 Sunderland Gordon, Bardsley, Evans, Nosworthy, Collins, Edwards (Leadbitter 67), Whitehead, Richardson, Reid, O’Donovan (Chopra 59), Murphy (Yorke 87).
 Subs Not Used: Fulop, Prica.

 Booked: Bardsley, O'Donovan.

 Goals: Chopra 83.

 Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Attendance: 42,640

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