English Premiership

Cleverley seals win for Villa

2015-05-09 18:23
Tom Cleverley (Supplied)
Tom Cleverley (Supplied)

Birmingham - Tom Cleverley scored his third goal in three games as Aston Villa edged West Ham United 1-0 on Saturday to move four points above the Premier League relegation zone.

The on-loan Manchester United midfielder tapped in a cross from Jack Grealish in the 31st minute to give Villa back-to-back home wins for the first time in 14 months and nudge Tim Sherwood's side closer to safety.

Villa, who will tackle holders Arsenal in the FA Cup final on May 30, now require three points from their final two games away to Southampton and at home to relegated Burnley to make sure of survival.

Sam Allardyce's West Ham slipped one place to 10th, having now gone 11 away games without tasting victory.

Both teams were unchanged at Villa Park and it was Villa, with Gabriel Agbonlahor back on the bench after hamstring trouble, who assumed control.

Charles N'Zogbia crossed for Cleverley, whose bouncing volley was parried by West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, while Christian Benteke sliced wide from Jores Okore's knock-down before the breakthrough arrived.

Nineteen-year-old Grealish, floppy-haired star of Villa's FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool, darted to the byline on the left and drilled in a low cross that Cleverley touched home from inside the six-yard box.

West Ham were struggling to get a foot on the ball, but set-pieces offered them a potential route back into the game.

Shortly before half-time, Cheikhou Kouyate met Aaron Cresswell's free-kick with a header that Villa goalkeeper Shay Given had to turn around the post.

The visitors made a double-change at the interval, with Alex Song and Nene entering the fray in place of Kevin Nolan and Morgan Amalfitano.

The changes had the desired effect, with Nene shooting narrowly over and Given obliged to save a header from former Villa centre-back James Collins.

Shortly after, Enner Valencia glanced an inviting right-wing cross from Nene into the net, only for the goal to be ruled out for a marginal offside.

West Ham also sent on striker Carlton Cole for the closing stages, but it was Villa who came closest to scoring with substitute Agbonlahor running clear of Cresswell, only to roll his shot wide.


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