Aston Villa moved into the top half of the Premier League after edging past West Brom to win a thrilling West Midlands derby at Villa Park 4-3.
A smart shot by Chris Brunt and an own goal from Fabian Delph saw the visitors race into a two-goal lead inside the opening 10 minutes.
But Villa fought back immediately as Andreas Weimann took advantage of a defensive mix-up to lob Ben Foster.
And Villa were again fortunate as Matthew Lowton’s cross was inadvertently deflected in by Leandro Bacuna to level the scores.
There was no luck invovled in the effort which saw the hosts take the lead, however, as Christian Benteke’s knockdown was picked up by Delph who beat Steven Reid before thumping a stunning shot off the underside of the bar to leave Foster gobsmacked.
But a Benteke penalty in the 62nd minute proved enough to seal victory for the Villans and lift them nine points above the relegation zone.
5' - BRUNT GOAL: Brunt shocks Villa with a well-taken shot from outside the box which leaves Guzan with no chance as it flies past him and into the right hand side of the goal.
9' - DELPH OWN GOAL! A quick free kick down the left wing releases Morrison whose pass across the face of goal is turned into the Villa net by Delph. Villa are on the ropes here.
11' - WEIMANN GOAL: Villa respond to the double setback immediately as a long ball forward from Guzan is flicked on by a West Brom defender landing at the feet of Weimann in the box allowing him to expertly loft the ball over Ben Foster.
23' - ANELKA INJURY: After sliding into a challenge to give Morrison the ball, Anelka is forced to withdraw from the action with a cut to his leg.
25' - BACUNA GOAL: A mix-up in the West Brom box allows Villa to grab a scrappy equaliser through Bacuna who pokes home from close range.
36' – DELPH SCORES AT RIGHT END THIS TIME: Villa complete an impressive turnaround. Westwood's ball to Benteke is knocked down into the path of Delph who dribbled round Reid before sending a thumping shot in via the crossbar.
44' – MULUMBU ON TARGET: Mulumbu is slid through on goal by Morrison and keeps his cool to roll the equaliser under Guzan.
63' - BENTEKE WINS AND SCORES PENALTY: Benteke is bundled over by Lugano as they fight for a cross from the right and keeps his composure to knock a stylish penalty beyond Foster for the winning goal.
Aston Villa claim their first win at home since the 2-0 victory against Cardiff City on November 9.
Villa had scored just eight goals at Villa Park this season, fewer than any other team on home soil in the top flight. They increased that number by 50% after beating West Brom.
Paul Lambert’s side ended a winless run of six games against West Brom, which included four consecutive draws.
Christian Benteke continued his return to form with a third goal in as many games following a lean spell of zero in 11.
West Brom’s defensive woes continued, they have now kept just one clean sheet in 14 games in all competitions.
This was Villa’s 300th Premier League win.
Can Pepe Mel end West Brom’s disastrous run? The Spaniard will have his work cut out replicating Steve Clarke’s eighth place finish of last season, but they should have far too much to go down, and in time will turn this form around.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa): The Belgian striker was at the heart of every Villa attack and a constant thorn in the side of Jonas Olsson and Diego Lugano who just couldn’t handle him.
Aston Villa: Guzan 6, Lowton 6, Vlaar 6, Clark 5, Bertrand 7, Westwood 6, El Ahmadi 5, Delph 7, Bacuna 6, Weimann 7, Benteke 9. Subs: Baker 6, Sylla 5, Holt 5.
West Brom: Foster 5, Reid 5, Lugano 5, Olsson 6, Ridgewell 6, Morrison 6, Yacob 6, Mulumbu 7, Anelka 4, Anichebe 5, Brunt 6. Subs: Vydra 5, Berahino 5, Amalfitano 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Aston Villa
- Christian Benteke
- Villa Park
- Premier League
- Fabian Delph