Cardiff 0-0 Villa report: Visitors can't make pressure pay
Villa were good value for a point at the Cardiff City Stadium - but it should really have been three.
Although Paul Lambert's men had a couple of escapes when Cardiff hit the woodwork twice in the space of 60 seconds in the opening period, they took charge after the break and had enough chances to win.
Gabby Agbonlahor, the club's record Premier League scorer, was guilty of one miss when he looked certain to score, while Fabian Delph and sub Andi Weimann were both denied by magnificent David Marshall saves.
Villa provided the first threat, Nathan Baker venturing forward to climb above two opponents and head over Marc Albrighton's excellent cross from the right.
Then Delph moved on to Ryan Bertrand's pass and stroke forward to unleash a low drive which wasn't far wide.
In the 14th minute, though, the visitors had two let-offs in quick succession - and it was effectively payback time for their two efforts against the woodwork against West Ham on Saturday.
First Brad Guzan's outstretched arm diverted Fraizer Campbell's close-range shot on to the post when a goal looked certain.
And almost immediately Craig Noone's 25-yard shot took a deflection off Ashley Westwood and looped on to the top of the bar, forcing Baker and Bertrand into some desperate defending to get the ball away for a corner.
Villa's response was to fashion the best move so far, Westwood and Agbonlahor combining well to create space for Albrighton on the right. The winger delivered a dangerous cross but although Benteke climbed highest he was unable to get any power behind a header that was comfortably saved by Marshall.
Wilfried Zaha had the ball in Villa's net in the 35th minute but a linesman's flag was already raised for offside as the ball was headed down following a corner.
Westwood instigated another fine Villa move three minutes before the interval, playing a short pass to Delph, who lofted a superb ball over Kevin Theophile-Catherine for Joe Bennett to chase down the left.
The midfielder produced an inviting low centre, but no other Villa player was far enough advanced to capitalise.
Either side of the break, Benteke was just unable to get a proper contact on headers from Albrighton crosses, although there was another scare on 54 minutes when the previously immaculate Ron Vlaar was given the slip by Campbell.
To be fair, the Cardiff striker appeared to handle, but the ref waved play on and Villa were relieved when Campbell dragged his shot well wide.
Leandro Bacuna was much closer at the other end just past the hour mark. Collecting Albrighton's pass deep in the visitors' half, the full-back raced down the right and played the ball forward to Agbonlahor on the half-way line.
Bacuna continued his run to accept the return pass and dart into the area before drilling a low shot only narrowly beyond the far post.
Westwood fired over in the next attack, while Cardiff's Kenwyne Jones had a lunging header well saved by Guzan before Bacuna's superb through ball sent Benteke racing through the right channel.
The striker tried to pick out Agbonlahor in the centre but his cross was blocked away for a corner.
Albrighton then had a volley well held by Marshall before the keeper made a brilliant save in the 77th minute.
Delph's tremendous left-footer looked a certain goal as it took a defection off Steven Caulker, but Marshall somehow managed to tip it away for a corner.
After Vlaar had volleyed just too high, Villa seemed to be on the brink of a breakthrough again when Benteke cleverly flicked on Albrighton pass to leave Agbonlahor with a perfect chance.
But momentary hesitation proved costly as Theophile-Catherine raced back to clear for a corner.
Even in stoppage time, Villa had two glorious chances.
Agbonlahor was just unable to connect with Bertrand's cross and then Marshall produced his second wonder save, tipping over Weimann's close-range effort after superb approach work by Benteke and Westwood.
Cardiff City: Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, John; Noone, Medel, Mutch (Eikrem 32), Zaha (Daehli 61); Campbell, Jones. Unused subs: Lewis, Cowie, Cala, Berget, Fabio.
Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; Albrighton, Westwood, Delph, Bennett (Weimann 69); Agbonlahor, Benteke. Unused subs: Steer, Clark, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Sylla, Holt.
Go to full match coverage for Cardiff City 0 - 0 Aston Villa (11th February 2014) >
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