Villa 3-2 Malaga report: Benteke double in final friendly win
Christian Benteke took his haul to seven goals in five games as Villa completed their pre-season schedule with victory over Malaga at Villa Park.
The Belgium international opened the scoring in the 12th minute and converted a penalty on the half hour mark after skipper Ron Vlaar had powered home a 20th-minute header.
Paul Lambert's men were unable to maintain their momentum, though, and after Jores Okore had conceded an own goal just before the interval, the La Liga side reduced the deficit still further through Sergi Darder.
Nevertheless, it was another useful work-out for Paul Lambert's men ahead of next Saturday's Barclays Premier League curtain-raiser at Arsenal.
Bulgarian midfielder Aleksandar Tonev had no joy with an early shot which was blocked, while Bartlomiej Pawlowski was only just too high with a swerving shot from the edge of the box before Villa went ahead.
Collecting the ball just outside the penalty area, Benteke shrugged off a challenge and side-stepped keeper Willy Cabellero before calmly rolling the ball into the net from seven yards.
Malaga skipper Weligton Oliveira was injured in trying to prevent the goal and was replaced by Roberto Chen - and eight minutes later the home side doubled their lead.
Antonio Luna surged forward to win a corner on the left, and when Tonev delivered an inswinging flag kick, Vlaar arrived perfectly to leave Cabellero helpless with a powerful close-range header.
The skipper then did well defensively, his challenge forcing Roque Santa Cruz to miscue his shot from a good position, and after Andi Weimann had fired over from 25 yards, Benteke made it 3-0.
The Belgium international, tripped by Marcos Angeleri as he moved on to Tonev's fine through ball, picked himself up to stroke the spot kick to Cabellero's right as the keeper dived the other way.
The impressive Tonev then had a shot deflected for a corner before the visitors reduced the deficit three minutes before half-time.
Pawlowski cleverly evaded Vlaar before crossing hard and low from the right, and Okore had the misfortune to divert the ball into his own net.
The Spanish outfit, who open their La Liga campaign at Valencia next Saturday, were far more enterprising in the second period.
Brad Guzan did well to push over a rising drive from Pawlowski, who then hit the outside of the post with a firm drive before Darder claimed a second for the visitors when his curling effort from the edge of the area took a deflection off Karim El Ahmadi on its way into the corner.
Villa, meanwhile, had lost much of their early impetus, and it was the 70th minute before they managed their first shot of the second half, Tonev's long-range effort going well off target.
Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Okore (Baker 76), Vlaar, Luna (Bennett 76); El Ahmadi (Westwood 76), Delph; Weimann, Tonev (Helenius 76), Agbonlahor; Benteke.
Malaga: Cabellero; Gamez, Angeleri, Weligton (Chen 15), Antunes; Tissone (Duda 77); Pawlowski, Portillo (Morales 66), Darder, Olinga (Camachu 77); Santa Cruz (Garcia 83).
Adobe Flash Plug-in Needed
This website requires a Adobe Flash plug-in. Please download the latest version of the Flash plug-in by clicking here