Tuesday 20 March 2018

Advocaat’s half-time reshuffle turns tables for Sunderland as Lens leveller denies Villa

Premier League Round-up

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood said that it was too early on in the season for games that must be won
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood said that it was too early on in the season for games that must be won
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Tim Sherwood said last week it was too early in the season for must-win games but he will be disappointed his Aston Villa side were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Sunderland.

Neither team has shown too much so far to suggest significant improvement on last season’s struggles towards the bottom of the Premier league but on this showing Villa may just have enough as an attacking force to survive.

Sunderland, on the other hand, perhaps not so. With their problems lying at the opposite end of the pitch, they will not keep many clean sheets this season. Dick Advocaat’s team led through Yann M’Vila’s superb free-kick but a Scott Sinclair double before half-time turned the game on its head.

However, Villa could not hold on to the lead either and Jeremain Lens levelled for Sunderland early in the second half. Sherwood’s side pushed for a winning goal and had a couple of penalty shouts turned down but it ended all square.

Sunderland went ahead after eight minutes through M’Vila’s free-kick. His lovely curling shot around the Villa wall left Brad Guzan, diving at full stretch, with no chance.

But the lead lasted just three minutes. Lee Cattermole clumsily leant over the top of Sinclair and referee Robert Madley pointed to the penalty spot.

Sinclair took the spot-kick himself and tucked the ball away into the left-hand side of the net, sending Costel Pantilimon the wrong way. Villa were now in the ascendancy and Sinclair went close again before Ashley Westwood’s first-time shot from the right side of the area flew just wide.

Villa made their pressure pay four minutes before half-time when Idrissa Gueye set Jordan Amavi free down the left and Sinclair got between two defenders inside the six-yard box to divert his low cross into the roof of the net.

Whatever Advocaat said to his players at the break it got that late first-half disappointment out of their systems — although two substitutions played a big part.

The Dutchman replaced Danny Graham and Cattermole with Steven Fletcher and Ola Toivonen, on for his debut following his loan arrival this week from French club Rennes.

Fletcher was involved straight away as Sunderland started the second half brightly, with his header having to be tipped over the bar by Guzan. Shortly afterwards, Toivonen joined the party. His threaded through ball found Lens, who turned Ciaran Clark and fired his shot beyond Guzan.

Pantilimon produced a good save to deny Ashley Westwood and then kept out a Rudy Gestede header as the hosts searched for a winner but Sunderland held on to their point.

Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy scored from the penalty spot with just four minutes remaining to maintain Leicester’s unbeaten start to the season at Bournemouth.

The Cherries appeared to be on course for their first home victory in the Premier League after Callum Wilson’s acrobatic strike in the first half.

But Steve Cook hauled down Vardy in the penalty area and the Foxes striker then stepped up to score his side’s equaliser and ensure a 1-1 draw.

Bournemouth dominated the opening period and Wilson’s delightful strike after 24 minutes was no more than they deserved. Charlie Daniels was afforded too much space on the left-hand side and his cross eventually fell to Wilson. His improvised effort left Kasper Schmeichel stranded in the Leicester goal and Bournemouth celebrated their first Premier League strike at Dean Court.

Bournemouth should have then been given the opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot after Kante tripped Tomlin inside the area, but the hosts were awarded only a free-kick. Gradel’s effort was punched clear by Kasper Schmeichel.

Both teams made one change at the interval. Okazaki replaced Mahrez and joined Vardy in a two-pronged attack. Tyrone Mings came on for Daniels. Leicester began to take a stranglehold on the game and Artur Boruc was finally called into action in the Bournemouth goal with 70 minutes gone when Jeff Schlupp escaped the offside trap but his effort was parried away.

Bournemouth were rattled and Vardy was upended by Cook after a mazy run. The England international converted from the spot to the delight of the visiting fans.

Stoke meanwhile sunk to a 1-0 defeat to West Brom after having two men sent off in the space of six first-half minutes on ex-Potters boss Tony Pulis’s maiden return to the Britannia Stadium.

Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam both appeared to only have themselves to blame as they were shown straight red cards in the 25th and 31st minutes respectively, the former having put his hand in the face of Craig Gardner and the latter seeming to stamp on Craig Dawson.

West Brom — again with Tottenham target Saido Berahino not part of their squad — then grabbed the lead in first-half stoppage-time as Salomon Rondon headed in his first goal since joining for a club-record £12m over the summer.

Stoke, who left a player with an uncertain future out themselves in Jonathan Walters, put up a creditable fight thereafter.

But it was always going to be difficult to salvage anything from the game following the two entirely avoidable-looking dismissals, and they remain without a Premier League victory this season, while West Brom now have their first.

West Brom took all three points when substitute Ricky Lambert lofted a delivery to the far post and Rondon headed the ball back across Butland into the corner of the net.

Online Editors

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