Sport Soccer

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Lambert demands more of Benteke despite two goals

John Curtis

PAUL Lambert insisted the overall performance of Aston Villa's two-goal Capital One Cup hero Christian Benteke "wasn't up to my standards" despite securing his side a quarter-final spot.

The 21-year-old netted an injury-time winner in the 3-2 win at Swindon last night after the League One club had threatened to pull off a shock win after recovering from a two-goal deficit.

Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor had given Villa a 2-0 lead before Robins substitute Miles Storey's brace looked to have forced the game into extra-time - only for Benteke struck for the second time.

Lambert described the finishing power of the Belgium international as "world class" but felt the £7million summer signing failed to live up to the standards of previous games in a Villa shirt.

The Villa manager said: "Benteke has had a quality start (at Villa) but his game wasn't up to my standards.

"His two goals were world class finishes but you set yourself a standard and we've got to keep him up to that standard.

"I don't know why he fell short. But he has been brilliant since he came here and I think he will get better.

"He is only 21 and has been a pleasure to work with. He is going to be a big player and plays in a brilliant Belgium team.

"He might not score every time but he actually puts himself into positions to score and the winning goal was top drawer."

Villa are through to the last eight for the third time in the last four years as they gave their season a welcome lift after a difficult start in the Barclays Premier League.

But, irrespective of their league position, Lambert is determined to pay the competition respect as was demonstrated by the side he fielded - even allowing for the exclusion of striker Darren Bent.

He said: "You've got to take the competition seriously. There were 3,500 Villa fans at the game and they pay a lot of money to come and watch us.

"It is important we try and progress and see how far we can go."

Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio defended his actions at the end of the game when he appeared to gesture to Villa fans that their side would be relegated from the Barclays Premier League.

He said: "No, that was not the case. There was no bad gesture towards the Villa fans.

"I was saying to my fans that they had been brilliant and their support was so good that they were up there and Villa were below them.

"To see the County Ground full of emotion when we scored the second goal was amazing. I was saying it was my fans who are top and they (the Villa fans) are underneath.

Di Canio was proud of the performance of his players despite Benteke breaking their hearts with his fourth goal for Villa.

He said: "I thought the first half was 50-50. I was more than proud of my players at the end because it was not a typical comeback, one that is just for consolation or from adrenaline.

"It was one with quality and because of change in a tactical way. We came very close to something special."

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