Shamrock Rovers 0-2 Villa report: Benteke and Weimann on target
It was pretty much the perfect afternoon for Villa as they saw off Shamrock Rovers 2-0.
Strikers Andi Weimann and Christian Benteke bagged impressive goals, Aleksandar Tonev and Jores Okore both came through stiff 45 minute tests after injury while Paul Lambert's men made it a hat-trick of pre-season wins, on the back of victories over Crewe and Walsall.
And to put the icing on the cake, legendary defender Paul McGrath was in the stands to watch his beloved former side triumph in their latest build-up clash ahead of the 2013-14 season.
Benteke tweeted earlier in the week 'To Be Continued' as he hailed his partnership with Weimann.
And it was that predatory pair who were at it again here in the Emerald Isle.
Weimann fired home expertly on 15 minutes before Benteke bravely headed in on 30 minutes.
There were other chances throughout the 90 minutes but boss Lambert will have been pleased overall with the workout as he gears up for the challenge of Arsenal at The Emirates on August 17.
It was a fine first half for Villa, who pressed home their quality.
Before the game, the feelgood factor was in evidence as Tonev and Okore were named on the teamsheet while McGrath was greeted like a hero with chants of 'Ooh Aah' as he took his seat in the stands.
The team didn't disappoint when the action got underway, either.
Weimann opened the scoring to loud screams from the claret and blue contingent who have swarmed on Dublin in vast droves.
Benteke used his pace and grace to nick the ball out of the grasp of goalkeeper Barry Murphy before pulling it back for Weimann.
The Austrian ace skipped a challenge before firing expertly home.
Benteke doubled the lead on the half hour mark after another fine move.
This time, right-back Matt Lowton curled a wickedly delicious ball into the box from his flank and the bruising Belgian striker dived to head home.
But Villa created plenty of other efforts on goal.
Gabby Agbonlahor saw a goalbound shot deflected on 13 minutes, Tonev watched a dipping right-foot strike curl just around the post on 29 minutes while Benteke had a snap header cleared off the line on 43 minutes.
Just prior to half-time, Weimann flashed a shot just over after great wing play from Agbonlahor to create the opening.
The opposition did have chances too, Sean O'Connor with the best two.
Both were 35-yard efforts which flew just past Brad Guzan's left-hand post.
The second period was a far tamer affair but Villa were still well on top.
Lambert made five changes at the break, with Fabian Delph, Nicklas Helenius, Karim El Ahmadi, Leandro Bacuna and Ciaran Clark introduced to bring fresh legs to proceedings.
Helenius was straight into the action, firing at Murphy from close-range on 50 minutes after good build-up play with Benteke.
Clark then headed just over from a corner while Okore was desperately unlucky on the hour mark when he couldn't quite reach a fine ball into the box from Ashley Westwood.
Clark was at it again on 66 minutes as he saw a blasting 20-yard shot palmed away by the busy Murphy.
Lambert made three further chances on 75 minutes, Samir Carruthers, Yacouba Sylla and Gary Gardner entering the fray.
And it was Carruthers who shone brightest.
He whipped in a superb cross for Helenius on 82 minutes but the Danish hitman couldn't keep his header down while Murphy was called into action a short time later when Carruthers tried a cheeky chipped effort, the ball tipped over brilliantly.
That was all she wrote in this encounter and it's fair to say Lambert will have been very satisfied with the performance in front of an exuberant crowd.
VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, Luna, Westwood, Benteke, Tonev, Weimann. Subs: Steer, Okore [for Luna, 45], Clark [for Vlaar], Bacuna [for Lowton, 45], Helenius [for Tonev, 45], Delph [for El Ahmadi,45], Sylla [for Westwood, 75], Gardner [for Benteke, 75], Carruthers [for Agbonlahor, 75].
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