English Premiership

Gardner returns to haunt Villa

2014-12-13 21:06
English Premiership logo (File)

West Bromwich - Craig Gardner scored against his former club as West Bromwich Albion ended a run of five winless Premier League games by beating 10-man Aston Villa 1-0 on Saturday.

Kieran Richardson, who was also playing against his old team, was sent off mid-way through the first half for a foul on Stephane Sessegnon and Gardner made West Brom's numerical advantage count with a 72nd-minute winner.

His strike gave West Brom only their second home win over Villa in 13 attempts and lifted Alan Irvine's side two places in the table to 14th; three points above the relegation places.

Paul Lambert's Villa, who had won their previous two matches and were unbeaten in five, slipped one place to 12th.

West Brom, who again left top scorer Saido Berahino on the bench, were first to threaten, with visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan obliged to palm away a shot from left-back Sebastien Pocognoli.

Ashley Westwood's knee injury saw Richardson drafted into Villa's starting XI, but his return to The Hawthorns proved short-lived.

After over-running the ball, the former Manchester United midfielder slid in on Sessegnon with his studs showing and was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Dean.

West Brom finished the first half strongly, with Sessegnon forcing Guzan to save with his feet after Pocognoli beat Alan Hutton on the left and crossed.

Visiting manager Lambert stiffened his midfield at half-time by sending on the fit-again Fabian Delph for Charles N'Zogbia, but West Brom continued to dominate.

Silvestre Varela saw a well-struck volley blocked, while the recalled Brown Ideye squandered two good chances, fluffing his lines from James Morrison's cross and then blazing a centre from Varela over the bar.

Irvine introduced Berahino with 20 minutes left and the recent England call-up made an immediate impact.

His cross from the right was not gathered by Guzan and following a scramble, the ball popped up for Gardner - who began his career at Villa - to slam home the winner.

Christian Benteke had two chances to equalise, but he flicked the ball narrowly wide from a Ciaran Clark header and then sliced off-target from Gabriel Agbonlahor's chested lay-off in injury time.

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