Premier League - Villa survive late Wigan comeback

Tue, 25 Jan 21:57:00 2011

Goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young secured Aston Villa's first back-to-back victories of the Premier League season as they survived a late comeback from Wigan to emerge 2-1 winners at the DW Stadium.

Agbonlahor broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half before Young doubled Villa's advantage with a 61st-minute penalty.

James McCarthy's goal with 10 minutes remaining made for a nervy finish to the game for Villa, but Gerard Houllier's side weathered the storm to claim all three points.

Roberto Martinez made four changes from the side that suffered defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. Emmerson Boyce replaced the suspended Gary Caldwell, James McArthur and Franco Di Santo both started and the Latics welcomed back McCarthy after a three-month injury absence.

Houllier make three changes to the side that beat Manchester City, handing debuts to new signing Jean Makoun and youngster Nathan Baker with Nigel Reo-Coker replacing Stiliyan Petrov.

The away side started well, with Darren Bent going close in the early stages. Young hit a free-kick high up the pitch and Villa's record signing took it past Boyce and Steven Caldwell only to hit a tame effort straight at Ali Al Habsi.

Minutes later, Stewart Downing raced down the right flank and, rather than pulling the ball back to an unmarked Bent, he shot while at an impossible angle and saw his effort easily saved.

McCarthy was a welcome presence in the Wigan midfield with some neat passing, while Charles N'Zogbia, finding life on the right wing difficult, had to cut inside to pose a real threat as he struggled to get much past the impressive Nathan Baker.

Despite a bright opening spell, Villa soon faded and only Wigan's inability to fashion a clear-cut chance left the scores level at half-time.

Villa emerged after the break full of smiles, and they started the second period as they did the first.

Houllier's men piled the pressure on and after a series of corners, they took the lead.

Young delivered a corner to the back post and Carlos Cuellar rose above the Wigan defence but saw his thumping header magnificently saved by Al Habsi; but the rebound fell kindly to Agbonlahor who could do little else but bundle the ball over the line.

Ten minutes later, Villa doubled the lead. Downing chipped a delightful pass over the Wigan defence to Young who was crudely scythed down by Hendry Thomas when posing no obvious threat.

The former Watford winger took the penalty himself and despatched a thunderous effort past Al Habsi.

Villa's second seemed to have killed the game off as Wigan heads dropped. In an effort to change things up, Martinez introduced Ronnie Stam and Ben Watson.

The substitutions brought some life into the Lactics and they pulled a goal back 10 minutes from time through McCarthy.

The midfielder picked the ball up and took a shot from 25 yards which took a fortuitous deflection off the impressive James Collins and wrong-footed Brad Friedel.

The home side continued to heap on the pressure but couldn't produce anything more than a half-chance as the team from the Midlands showed their resolve and coped well.

Villa, securing their first back-to-back wins in the league this season move up to 13th while Wigan miss out on the chance to move out of the relegation zone.

Mike Grady / Eurosport

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