VfL Bochum 1-1 Villa report: Helenius on target again
Nicklas Helenius scored again as Paul Lambert watched his team collect their third 1-1 draw in Germany.
Helenius took six minutes to head home against Rodinghausen but this time in Bochum it was just two minutes as he pounced perfectly past Andreas Luthe with a clinical header to make it two goals in three game.
That was at the start of the second half as Lambert made 11 changes once again in a bid to give all his players ample match-time ahead of the 2013-14 season.
The goal from Helenius sparked an impressive display from the boys in claret and blue after a first half which was more steady than spectacular.
It was a different story after the break as goal-provider Leandro Bacuna, Marc Albrighton, Gary Gardner and Jordan Bowery all impressed up top, with Nathan Baker and Ron Vlaar solid at the back.
Just before the hour mark, Bacuna showed his quick feet and tricky skills as he danced clear before firing a shot straight at Luthe.
Then Albrighton tried his luck with a first-time shot from the left which flew marginally wide.
Just past the hour mark, Helenius was the focal point of the attack once again, played through beautifully by Gardner before striking one just wide.
Villa came closest to doubling their advantage on 75 minutes with Helenius again involved.
The giant striker headed a corner back across goal and Bacuna headed goalwards only to see the ball cleared off the line.
Helenius then chipped in Bowery with an exquisite throughball but the former Chesterfield man could only watch on as Luthe turned the effort around the post.
Bowery then had another effort, turning neatly in the box on 81 minutes but again Luthe got his considerable frame behind the ball to thwart the powerful forward.
Just as Villa looked to have cruised home for the win, the ever-willing Yusuke Tasaka picked the ball up in the left channel and screamed one past the helpless Jed Steer, who could only look-on.
It was an annoying finish for Lambert's men who had shown considerable class after the break.
But, as he stresses time and again, these pre-season games are far more about fitness levels than results.
Bochum and Villa provided less action before the break, with steady stuff the order of the opening 45 minutes.
Andreas Weimann was a willing worker, supported by Samir Carruthers and Graham Burke, but there were only half-chances for the visitors.
In all honesty, it was a case of both sides checking each other out for much of the half.
The best effort fell to the hosts, goalscorer Tasaka turning and firing over Brad Guzan's goal early on.
FIRST HALF: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, El Ahmadi, Luna, Westwood, Delph, Burke, Weimann, Herd, Carruthers.
SECOND HALF: Steer, Vlaar, Baker, Bacuna, Helenius, Albrighton, Webb, Sylla, Bowery, Bennett, Gardner.