Stoke 0-1 Villa report: Weimann ensures opening day delight
Villa secured their second consecutive opening day victory on the road after a deserved win over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
A goal from Andi Weimann, four minutes into the second half, secured the victory at one of the Barclays Premier League's toughest arenas to visit.
Newboys Aly Cissokho, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson made their first competitive starts - each excelling in claret and blue.
There was also a Britannia Stadium debut for the vanishing spray, brought into the top-flight following its success at this summer's World Cup.
Its first use was for a claret and blue free-kick, prompting rapturous applause from all four sides of the stadium.
As for proceedings between the sides, after a tense opening, where both teams were fearful of making a mistake, the first chance fell to the hosts when Steven Nzonzi shot straight at Brad Guzan.
New signings Bojan and Cissokho for Stoke and Villa respectively enjoyed a healthy battle early on, with the new Villa left-back coming out on top, showing the strength and stamina necessary to succeed in England's elite division.
The visitors grew into the half and Cissokho's left wing cross was headed behind by Erik Pieters with Richardson lurking ready to tap home.
Villa continued to find space down the left flank, this time the supporters' player of the season Fabian Delph crossing - but the Potters cleared once more.
In another crisp attacking move, the hardworking Delph tried his luck from distance but his effort sailed harmlessly high over the bar.
Midway through the first half, Villa should have taken the lead.
A mix-up in the Stoke defence saw the unselfish Richardson cut the ball back to Gabby Agbonlahor, who failed to convert from yards out.
Moments before Anthony Taylor blew the half-time whistle, Charles N'Zogbia's drive caused mayhem in the Villa box, but a combination of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and NZonzi were able to avert the danger to ensure the scores were level at the interval.
In his pre-match press conference, Paul Lambert said he was pleased with the balance and strength of his squad and this was evident as Villa started the second half in the same vein as the first - putting the hosts on the back foot.
Weimann was in tremendous form at the tail end of the 2013-14 season and his shot, a sweet strike from a difficult angle after 49 minutes gave Villa a deserved lead in front of the vocal sell-out visiting crowd.
Stoke looked for an instant response and only a perfectly timed block by World Cup hero Ron Vlaar denied Bojan a debut goal.
As well as demonstrating the type of organisation needed on the road, the claret and blue centre-halves were a threat from set-pieces, skipper Vlaar heading wide from a corner.
Lambert brought on young winger Jack Grealish whilst City introduced Peter Crouch after the break.
Crouch undoubtedly brought some much-needed attacking impetus into their play and with 20 minutes remaining, he immediately carved a rare second half opportunity for the hosts teeing up a long-range effort for Marko Arnautovic, his 25-yard effort drifting wide.
Grealish, meanwhile, showed experience beyond his years and excelled during his time on the pitch.
Hearts were in mouths as a tricky free-kick was deflected into the path of Ryan Shawcross but the City captain could not control.
Villa were always dangerous on the counter-attack and a fine run from Grealish ended with substitute Bacuna shooting high and wide.
Aside from a late blocked effort, Stoke were unable to test Guzan and Villa returned down the M6 victorious.
Stoke: Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Whelan (Adam 82), Nzonzi, Bojan, Ireland, Arnautovic, Diouf (Crouch 70). Unused subs: Sorensen, Huth, Muniesa, Walters, Sidwell.
Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Vlaar, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, N'Zogbia (Grealish 70), Weimann (Bacuna 82), Richardson, Agbonlahor. Unused subs: Given, Baker, Clark, El Ahmadi, Bent.
Go to full match coverage for Stoke 0 - 1 Aston Villa (16th August 2014) >
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