In a weekend of ‘cupsets’, the Villans’ encounter with the high-flying Cherries had all the hallmarks of another one.
Promises of ‘big player news’ and cryptic clues from the official Aston Villa Twitter team added to the pre-match build-up before a recorded message from Fabian Delph, who missed this afternoon’s game due to an Achilles injury, revealed that he had, finally, put pen to paper on a new deal, which will keep him at Villa Park until 2019.
As the game got under way, the Cherries didn’t exactly look ripe for picking and Given was called into action after six minutes, saving Arter’s right-footed effort from outside the box.
Two minutes later, Weimann came close to opening the scoring with a header from the centre of the box but the Austrian missed to the right.
Gil, making his full debut, provided plenty of energy against a well-organised Bournemouth side and showed great willingness to have the ball at his feet. The stylish Spaniard had his first chance on goal after thirteen minutes when Harte failed to clear Richardson’s cross properly but he missed to the left.
After eighteen minutes, it was Weimann’s turn to miss to the left.
Given came to the home side’s rescue again just after the half hour mark, lunging to his left to keep out Arter’s effort.
When Mike Dean blew his whistle at the end of a relatively drab first half, the familiar booing filled Villa Park.
A slight shift in shape gave the Villans added impetus in the second half and it was the skilful Spaniard who acted as their driving force, coming close from the right of the box after just two minutes.
Still seeking the opener, the magical moment finally came following a fast break in the fifty-first minute. Picking out Bacuna’s pass to the right flank, the advancing Gil reached the edge of the box, cut inside and seamlessly switched to his left foot before bending the ball high into the top left-hand corner from twenty-five yards out. Although he had the choice of three men in the middle, it was clear he was going solo and the Spaniard showed great sleight of foot to score his first Villa goal. Indeed, it was the Villans’ first goal for some two hundred and thirty-three minutes.
Their second goal of the afternoon came twenty-one minutes later. Initiating another attack along the right, Bacuna released Hutton in the area and the Scot was able to find Weimann, whose composed side-footed finish beat Camp.
The vocal visitors had been delighted to see Wilson, who had scored fourteen times before today, replace Kermorgant on the hour mark but he had to wait until deep into stoppage time to score his deserved fifteenth from the side of the six-yard box. Despite setting claret and blue hearts racing momentarily, by then, it was a mere consolation goal.
Speaking after the game, Lambert was, as you would expect, full of praise for his team and, in particular, his new signing:
“We needed to try to get through. All credit to the team. I thought we deserved the win.
Gil is lighting the place up and it was a world class goal. Being a foreign player you can take time to adapt or hit the ground running and he has done the latter.”
One game closer to Wembley, the victorious Villans will discover tomorrow evening who they are to face in the fifth round of the prestigious knockout competition.