MATCHES
 
 
 
 
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03/02/2014
 
Christian Benteke scored twice as Aston Villa came from a goal behind to beat Norwich City 4-1 on Sunday and move seven points clear of the Premier League relegation zone. It was a remarkable turnaround for Villa, who'd gone three games without scoring a goal.

The omens were not promising for Villa manager Paul Lambert against his former club when Wes Hoolahan gave visitors Norwich a third minute lead. But a rainswept Villa Park then saw Benteke score two goals in three minutes and before half time the Birmingham club were 4-1 in front thanks to Leandro Bacuna and an own-goal from Sebastien Bassong.


Defeat left Norwich just four points above the bottom three but having played a game more than nearest pursuers Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, and two games more than beaten League Cup finalists Sunderland. Things looked good for the Canaries, fresh from a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, and their under-pressure manager Chris Hughton when they took an early lead.


Gary Hooper beat the offside trap to get in behind a static Villa defense and his cut-back found Hoolahan, who steered the ball in but did not celebrate a goal against a club he has been tipped to join. But Villa hit back in style when Benteke, seemingly well-shackled by Joseph Yobo, took a ball on his chest, turned and volleyed in an equalizer from 15 yards in the 25th minute.


Barely had Norwich had time to recover from that blow then Villa were in front when Belgium striker Benteke powered in a header from a corner. Hoolahan was twice denied in quick succession by Brad Guzan, the Villa keeper blocking a shot and follow-up header.


To make matters worse for Norwich, they soon found themselves 3-1 behind when a Villa counter-attack saw the speedy Gabriel Agbonlahor release Andreas Weimann, who in turn found Bacuna on the overlap. Bacuna cut inside and then steered a shot home off the inside off the post.


And four minutes before the break Villa were 4-1 up when the unfortunate Bassong could do nothing but steer Fabian Delph's cross into his own net, with Agbonlahor lurking behind him. Unsurprisingly, the second half failed to match the first and when Hooper did break the offside trap six minutes from time his shot was parried away to safety by Guzan.

 
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01/29/2014
 
Aston Villa came from two goals down to beat West Bromwich Albion 4-3 in an extraordinary West Midlands derby on Wednesday. Things looked bleak for the home side at Villa Park after they fell 2-0 behind inside nine minutes thanks to a brilliant strike from Chris Brunt and a Fabian Delph own-goal. But before 25 minutes had elapsed, Villa were level courtesy of Andreas Weimann and Leandro Bacuna.

And before the interval there was still time for Delph to score at the right end and Youssouf Mulumbu to equalize for West Brom. After half-time, Christian Benteke finally settle the outcome with a 64th minute penalty awarded after the striker himself was fouled. Victory saw Villa climb to tenth in the Premier League table and left Pepe Mel still waiting for his first win as West Brom boss. Brunt opened the scoring in style, volleying the ball past Brad Guzan from some 30 yards out.


Minutes later Delph, trying to clear, turned James Morrison's cross into his own net. For a second time this season, West Brom were 2-0 up against Villa. But again they surrendered that advantage as happened in a 2-2 draw in November, only this time they didn't even have the consolation of a point. Villa's fight back started when, after Guzan punted the ball down field, Weimann lobbed Baggies keeper Ben Foster. Nicolas Anelka, once more selected by West Brom despite the FA disciplinary charge hanging over him as a result of his 'quenelle' goal celebration last month, limped off in the 26th minute, by which time Villa had equalized.


Benteke's pass to Matt Lowton split open the Baggies' defense and his cross was turned in at the far post by Bacuna.

Then another long ball exposed West Brom's defensive frailties before Delph, after rounding Steven Reid, smashed the ball in off the underside of the bar. But Villa's defense was breached again when Mulumbu shot through Guzan's legs to make it 3-3. There was a lull at the start of the second half until Diego Lugano brought down Benteke. Referee Mark Clattenburg gave a penalty and the Belgian forward made no mistake from the spot as he scored his third goal in as many games. West Brom had a couple of penalty appeals of their own but Clattenburg wasn't interested and Villa held on.

 
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12/21/2013
 
12 months ago, Belgian striker Christian Benteke was one of the Premier League's hottest prospects.

The young forward was scoring for fun, firing Paul Lambert's relegation-threatened side away from the danger of the bottom half. By the end of the year, he'd bagged 23 goals, impressed for his national team and was linked with some of the biggest clubs in the world. His performances had also single-handedly saved his boss from the sack.

Come this season though, Benteke looks like a completely different player. Gone is the tenacious, bustling and strong striker; replaced is a feeble, struggling, hesitating shell of an attacker.

Benteke's imposing upper-body strength was helping make mincemeat of some of the league's biggest defenders on a weekly basis in 2012. He was also adroit at holding the ball up, setting up goals for teammates and scoring a bunch himself .

By the end of 2012, Benteke had grabbed 14 goals in 17 starts, and was only beneath messrs Ronaldo and Messi in the goalscoring charts.
 
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10/26/2013
 

Goals by Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman gave Everton their fifth win in six games but only their second away win in 13 matches with a 2-0 success in the Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday.


Lukaku's fifth of the season, since he was taken on loan from Chelsea, and Osman's goal saw Roberto Martínez's side move into third spot, four points off leaders Arsenal, although either Chelsea or Manchester City could go back above them depending on the outcome of their game on Sunday.


Victory also took Everton level with Villa in their head to head record with 72 wins apiece from their 197 meetings.


The first-half was end-to-end action with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard saving his side from going in behind at the break. The American saved brilliantly in the eighth minute from Christian Benteke's penalty, awarded when the Belgian striker went down under a challenge from Irishman Seamus Coleman.


Benteke, one of Villa's few shining lights last season as they battled against relegation, had a chance later in the half to make up for failing to convert the penalty as he was released one on one on Howard, but again the goalkeeper came off better.


Everton, though, stemmed the one way traffic and almost scored a goal through Lukaku, but his point blank header was tipped over by Howard's compatriot Brad Guzan.


Guzan, however, was beaten a few minutes later by England midfielder Ross Barkley's long range effort which came back off the bar.


It was to be Lukaku, however, who was to break the deadlock eventually in the 68th minute as the second-half failed to replicate the fireworks of the first-half. The 20-year-old, who may well lead the Belgian strikeforce with Benteke at the World Cup, scored a super goal after being teed up by substitute Osman 16 yards out.


Osman, who had come on on the hour, then scored one of his own, set up by former Villa stalwart Gareth Barry, as he put the ball past Guzan from the edge of the area.

 
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09/24/2013
 

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert revealed on Tuesday that striker Christian Benteke will be out for around six weeks with a hip injury.


Last season's top scorer with 23 goals in all competitions, the Belgian international sustained the injury in his side's 1-0 win at Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.


"It is not as bad as we feared it was going to be," said Lambert. "Maybe four, five, six weeks or so."


Lambert made the announcement after Villa's 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the League Cup.


Benteke, who signed a new four-year contract in July, had scored five goals in his first five appearances this season prior to the win over Norwich.


The news means he is likely to miss Belgium's final two World Cup qualifiers next month. 


"The medical people give you the best and worst-case scenario," Lambert added. "You are never quite sure until you hear from the professor. Thankfully, it is not too serious. It has got a lot better and he is feeling a lot better and the international break certainly helps us."

 
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07/23/2013
 
A day of double whammy highlighted by Gareth Bale to Real Madrid rumors reigniting to a strong fervor has been complimented by Valencia breaking down talks with Spurs over acquiring slick finisher Roberto Soldado. 

Although the cash strapped La Liga club has been unyielding in their £30 million ($46m) demand for the World Cup 2014 hopeful, it still spells another day where Andre Villas-Boas and fans of the club wonder if they will ever get back into the Champions League in the near future. 

More frustrating than the conversation of Bale's future for Spurs supporters and chairman Daniel Levy has been the club's inability to get the forward of their choice.

Leandro Damiao has been rumored since last summer's Olympics of making a stay in England permanent with the North London club, but that never materialized with the international forward now possibly headed to Napoli instead. Christian Benteke slipped out of their hands (and Borussia Dortmund's) when Paul Lambert reminded Aston Villa's record signing of why he was purchased at the Birmingham club 12 months ago. The prolific yet under appreciated Mario Gomez wasn't even pursued by Levy and Villas-Boas before jumping to Florentina. And now Soldado, though overvalued like almost every notable player involved in a transfer this summer, appears to be slipping out of their hands. 

The huge boom of signing the rising Paulinho after his acclaimed Confederations Cup displays have already been overshadowed by the inability still to find a top #9. Even if Spurs somehow convince Bale to remain in their white instead of Los Blancos, another season with Jermaine Defoe as the leading man up front would signal the latest solid but 5th place level finish for a club desperate for much more.  
 
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07/20/2013
 

In a move that is sure to stun and disappoint a host of top Premiership clubs, Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, has sensationally withdrawn his transfer request and signed a new contract until 2017. Benteke did not travel on Aston Villa's pre-season tour to Germany with the club admitting that they would discuss a possible sale of their striker if an offer of £ 5 million was received.


On the 31st of August in 2012, Benteke joined Villa from Belgian side Genk on a four-year deal for a fee of £7 million. He became an immediate hit with the club's supporters after scoring on his debut two weeks later. The Belgian international became a target for Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs, among others, having scored 23 goals in all competitions in his debut season in England. On the 8th of July, Benteke alerted the interest of several of the Premier League's elite by handing in a transfer request. However, the striker has now committed his future to the club until 2017 after a "full and frank discussion" with manager Paul Lambert.


"I had a full and frank discussion with Christian on his return to training this week regarding his future," Lambert said. "It is my opinion that the best thing for Christian is to remain at Aston Villa. He enjoyed a terrific first season at the club and can use that as a platform to hopefully enjoy more success this season. "It's a huge bonus and I'm sure the supporters are every bit as delighted as me to have him on board and raring to go."


The 22-year old Benteke admitted "I spoke with the manager when I returned to training and we had a good talk." He continued "I am very happy to be back here in Birmingham and at Aston Villa, and to sign a new contract. This is a great club and it has given me a lot. Now I have to give back to my team-mates and the fans who have always been right behind me."


It is reported that the new contract has doubled his wages from £28,000 a week to £56,000 but it remains to be seen what kind of reception Benteke will get from Villa fans after a poll in a local newspaper revealed 73 per cent never wanted him to play for the club again. However, Paul Lambert will view Benteke staying as a huge boost ahead of the new season as he looks to build on a mediocre 2013 season.


 

 
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