|GOOOOOOOLAZO! Gabby Celebrates his Wonderstrike v. Blackburn|
Credit: Football 365.com
What a difference a week makes. After failing to get off the mark against Fulham, all three of Villa's nominal senior strikers got into the record books for the 2011-2012 campaign at Villa Park. Gabby Agbonlahor, who had a scintillating first half before leaving to a hamstring bruise at the interval, opened the scoring with a wonderful curling strike from the left edge of the area after turning Michel Salgado inside out. Gabby then laid off an incisive pass from Man of the Match Fabian Delph to Emile Heskey, who poked it past Rovers keeper Paul Robinson from the right side of the D. In the second half, Blackburn clawed one back after Villa bete noir Morten Gamst Pedersen headed home a nice cross from Junior Hoillet, but Villa put the game out of reach through Darren Bent, who picked up a pass-cum-shot from Stiliyan Petrov that deflected off of a Blackburn defender and knocked a left-footed strike over Robinson. Credit to Alex McLeish, who was received well, for making positive, attacking substitutions. The introduction of Barry Bannan at 65 minutes, in particular, helped Villa to clamp down on the resurgent Rovers, and his interplay in the attacking third led to Petrov's assist and many more chances for the Villa. Not a bad home start at all for the controversial appointment.
Villa will next play Hereford in the second round of the League Cup, tomorrow at 3 Eastern. Nowhere is showing the match, but Villa should win comfortably. Gabby Agbonlahor is doubtful after taking a kick on the hamstring from Paul Robinson late in the first half.
At the weekend, Villa stay at B6 and play host to second place (!) Wolves. Mick McCarthy's upstarts have been flying early, snatching a 2-1 come from behind win at Ewood Park and spanking Fulham at home 2-0. The match will be on ESPN3; since it's the early game (7:05 a.m. EDT kickoff), not a pub in the district will be open. Take the weekend to recover, watch the stream from your homes, and we'll be back next week!