Paul Lambert claimed his first Premier League win as Aston Villa manager after a dominant 2-0 victory over Swansea at Villa Park.
Aston Villa took the lead after 16 minutes when summer signing Matthew Lowton struck a fierce volley that deceived Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal.
Substitute Christian Benteke capitalised on a dreadful Ashley Williams mistake late on to seal a dream debut following his move from Genk.
New Aston Villa recruits Benteke, Ashley Westwood, Joe Bennett and Jordan Bowery all started on the bench as Lambert named an unchanged side from the one which drew 1-1 at Newcastle before the international break. Andreas Weimann retained his place in attack alongside Darren Bent in Lambert’s 4-4-2 formation, despite Gabriel Agbonlahor’s return to fitness.
Ben Davies and Alan Tate came into the Swansea back four as Michael Laudrup was forced to shuffle his pack with Neil Taylor out for the season with a broken ankle sustained in the draw against Sunderland and Chico Flores starting a three-match ban after being sent off in that game. New signing Ki Sung-yueng was named amongst the substitutes, with Danny Graham flanked by Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer, and Michu playing in a withdrawn role.
Swansea dominated possession in the early stages and Villa needed two fine saves from Brad Guzan in the space of a minute to prevent them going behind.
First the American beat out a powerful header from Williams, who connected with a corner from Jonathan De Guzman, and moments later he tipped a rasping shot from the lively Nathan Dyer around the post. They were two stunning saves from Guzan who was again preferred to Shay Given in the Villa goal.
The home side took the lead somewhat against the run of play.
Swansea thought they had cleared their lines, but Lowton controlled superbly on the edge of the area before unleashing a fierce volley that wrong-footed Vorm.
The Dutchman will reflect that he perhaps should have done better but Lowton’s shot swerved viciously and the youngster celebrated his first ever Premier League goal.
Villa grew in confidence and Weimann received the ball from Bent before curling in a well struck low effort that Vorm palmed behind for a corner.
Ciaran Clark was a real menace in the Swansea box and he flicked the ball goalwards but Vorm was on form to push the attempt away at the near post.
Villa appealed for handball on the line after Leon Britton blocked Weimann's goalbound shot but replays showed that referee Lee Mason was correct to wave play on as Britton stopped the ball with his head.
New signings Westwood and Benteke were introduced for Villa with 20 minutes left and it would prove to be a memorable debut for the young Belgium striker.
Clark's header was tipped over the bar by Vorm before Benteke passed up a decent opportunity as his shot was deflected wide by Williams after he had collected a pass from Bent.
A fine effort from Karim El Ahmadi forced a diving save from the overworked Vorm after he had collected a layoff from Benteke.
The striker had a moment to forget in the 83rd minute as he totally miskicked in front of goal, swinging at Bent’s knock-down at the far post. It was a glaring miss, but not one that would haunt him for long.
Former Villa striker Luke Moore passed up Swansea’s best chance with a free header straight at Guzan before Benteke struck at the other end.
Benteke latched onto a calamitous back header from Williams, lobbed the ball over Vorm, and knocked it over the line to seal victory.
This was a win built on hard work, as Villa refused to allow Swansea to get into their stride.
One of the few highlights in an ineffectual performance from Laudrup’s side was the cameo from new signing Pablo Hernandez who looked full of ideas after replacing the disappointing Wayne Routledge.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ron Vlaar – Aston Villa: A resolute performance from the Dutch centre-back who appears to have made the captaincy his own.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan 8, Lowton 8, Vlaar 9, Clark 8, Lichaj 7, Holman 8, El Ahmadi 7, Ireland 6, Bannan 7, Weimann 7, Bent 6. SUBS: N’Zogbia 6, Benteke 7, Westwood 6.
SWANSEA CITY: Vorm 8, Rangel 6, Tate 7, Williams 5, Davies 6, Britton 6, De Guzman 6, Michu 7, Routledge 5, Dyer 6, Graham 6. Subs: Hernandez 8, Shechter 6, Moore 6.
- Aston Villa
- Premier League
- Michel Vorm
- Wayne Routledge