English Premiership

Villa edge past Stoke

2014-08-16 18:16
Aston Villa up for sale. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/G
Aston Villa up for sale. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Stoke - Andreas Weimann scored the game's only goal as Aston Villa made a winning start to the new Premier League season with a 1-0 victory at Stoke City on Saturday.

While Villa escaped relegation by only five points last season, Stoke are hoping to build on a ninth-place finish, but the visitors belied predictions that they will struggle to avoid relegation with a clinical display.

Weimann struck in the 50th minute, drilling a shot through Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to give Villa a first away win in the league since a New Year's Day success at Sunderland.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes had handed competitive debuts to three new signings, with former Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic taking his place in the starting XI alongside Phil Bardsley and Mame Biram Diouf.

Villa also had three new faces in their line-up in Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson.

French winger Charles N'Zogbia made his first appearance in over a year following a serious Achilles problem, while Alan Hutton returned at right-back after spending part of last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers.

Stoke's fans were eager to catch a first glimpse of Bojan in competitive action and the 23-year-old was quick to catch the eye at the Britannia Stadium, cutting inside Hutton wide on the left and shooting into the side-netting.

But although the hosts enjoyed the lion's share of possession, Villa carried the greater threat on the break.

Gabriel Agbonlahor should have put the visitors ahead after Richardson beat Stoke goalkeeper Begovic to the ball and crossed, but the Villa forward shot wide of an open goal under pressure from Ryan Shawcross.

Former Sunderland full-back Bardsley looked to crown his debut with a goal by letting fly shortly before half-time, but his left-foot strike was parried by visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

They were warnings that the home side did not heed.

Five minutes into the second half, Weimann exploited half-hearted defending inside the Stoke box to let fly with a low shot that squirmed beneath Begovic.

In response, Bojan saw a succession of efforts blocked by Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph.

After Hughes threw on Peter Crouch in place of Diouf, Leandro Bacuna spurned a chance to extend Villa's lead when he lashed wide from Delph's low cross.

Stoke procured one last sight of goal in injury time, but Marko Arnautovic was superbly thwarted by Senderos.

Read more on:    aston villa  |  stoke  |  english premiership  |  soccer
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