Premier League - Unbeaten Villa down Wigan

Sat, 01 Oct 16:55:00 2011

Aston Villa ended a run of four Premier League draws with a 2-0 victory at home to Wigan Athletic and stay unbeaten after seven matches in the competition this season.

Aston Villa 2 Wigan 0

Goals either side of the break from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent were enough to earn three points and move Villa up two places to sixth.

Agbonlahor, the best player on the pitch, came inside and drilled into the top of the goal on 36 minutes before laying on the second for Bent in the 62nd minute.

It is the fourth time in the Premier League era that Villa have not been beaten in their opening seven games.

Despite their solid start to the season, Alex McLeish's Villa came into the game with the worst shooting accuracy in the Premier League, having hit the target with just 31 per cent of their efforts.

When the first proper shot of the game arrived on 11 minutes, that form was continued - Agbonlahor blazing over from inside the box following a Bent nod down. However the ball sat up and it was difficult for him to get over it.

Stiliyan Petrov did not improve matters with a wild effort from 35 yards but Villa began to go closer, with Stephen Ireland seeing a curler deflected just wide and Bent - back in the Villa side following an injury - heading over a Barry Bannan free-kick in the company of several defenders.

On 25 minutes Bent should have scored after chesting down another raking Bannan ball into the box and coming across the defender with an immediate second touch; he was unable to finish off that brilliant work, his left-footed volley for goal blocked then clawed away by Ali Al Habsi at the near post.

Ronnie Stam had the first real strike on goal for the visitors, bending one wide from 30 yards out, and three minutes later his side were behind.

Bannan produced another of those passes to give Agbonlahor the chance to isolate Gary Caldwell on the left. And he did so, coming inside and across the box before firing the ball past Al Habsi. It was only Villa's eighth league goal of the season.

In the first moments of the second half the homegrown England international almost made it two, twisting away from Ben Watson with the ball and nicking it through the legs of James McCarthy before curling a beautiful strike just past the far post low down.

With Wigan loath to commit too many men forward - Franco Di Santo left to chase many a long ball as Roberto Martinez kept his men in a solid formation - Villa continued to probe. Bent should have done better when striking against the already-grounded Caldwell with Agbonlahor waiting on the far side of the box.

Two minutes later, on 53, Di Santo was furious that he was not awarded a penalty: after driving into the box, Villa right-back Alan Hutton seemed to knock into his leg from outside. However referee Mark Clattenburg was likely not impressed by the ease with which he went to ground.

At the other end Bannan immediately forced Al Habsi into a flying save and two minutes later the keeper was almost caught out of position as he tipped a cross on to the bar.

The second goal killed off any Wigan hopes of a result. Agbonlahor, a constant menace running with the ball from deep, accelerated down the left beyond Emmerson Boyce and stood up a perfect cross for Bent to slam home low down and first time.

A brilliant Petrov half-volley was tipped over by the lithe Al Habsi as Villa sought a third goal. Shaun Maloney appeared from the bench on his return to Villa Park and looked lively, forcing a chance on the rebound for Di Santo - his spectacular 'rabona' flick, round the back of his standing leg, was blocked.

Charles N'Zogbia, a surprise omission from the starting XI, also came on to face his former club - he scored for Wigan in this fixture last season - but did not have much of a chance to make an impact.

Villa keeper Shay Given, largely a spectator, was finally called into action late on as a Victor Moses shot deflected off Conor Sammon and he scrambled to his near post to tip around it.

While McLeish's solid outfit answered some of their critics with the straightforward victory, Martinez saw his team drop two places to 17th in the Premier League table - only one place outside the relegation zone.

Jonathan Symcox - on Twitter: @jonathansymcox / Eurosport

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