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USA Tour match report: Chicago Fire 0-1 Villa

USA Tour: Fire v Villa big match audio and text commentary USA Tour: Lambert says confidence on the rise after Fire win
USA Tour match report: Chicago Fire 0-1 Villa

By Paul Brown in Chicago

Gabby Agbonlahor experienced ecstasy then agony then relief as he stole the headlines against Fire.

Agbonlahor ran the show in the opening period, bagging a great goal and terrorising the home side's defence at Toyota Park.

His bullet header from a fantastic Chris Herd cross was enough to ensure Villa a 1-0 win over the highly-rated MLS side.

But the delight he felt at bagging his first goal of pre-season looked the last thing on his mind when he went down in agony just after the hour mark in the second half.

Thankfully, the knee injury he sustained wasn't as bad as first feared and the striker will only be out for a couple of weeks.

Villa impressed thoroughly in the first period, dominating play and passing the ball around sweetly.

Fabian Delph was named skipper in Darren Bent's absence, the striker missing out with a slight thigh strain which will, like Agbonlahor, keep him out for a fortnight.

Delph led him side to a deserved lead at the break.

Agbonlahor bagged the goal and it was a sweet header, meeting Herd's cross from the right on 29 minutes.

But there were chances before and after the goal.

Agbonlahor set up the first effort on 13 minutes, storming down the left before crossing for Stephen Ireland. The midfielder slid in but his strike went just wide.

Then Eric Lichaj, returning to his hometown, charged down the same side before playing in Charles N'Zogbia. The wing wonder twisted and turned but his final shot was too high.

Agbonlahor almost scored immediately before he actually did, cutting inside following a rampant run down the right before firing towards the corner. Keeper Jay Nolly did well to turn around the post.

Richard Dunne headed just over on 36 minutes and two minutes later Gary Gardner was unlucky not to double the lead, blasting a 30-yard drive goalwards, only to see Nolly again make a fine save.

Fire's only real effort of the first half saw Rafael Robaya fire high and handsome from 30 yards out.

The second half was a more timid affair in terms of efforts on goal.

Agbonlahor's stretchering off was the first real talking point of the second period just after the hour mark.

Sub Barry Bannan played a lovely one-two with Aussie ace Brett Holman on 74 minutes but his wickedly-curling shot was too close to the keeper.

Matt Lowton skewed an effort wide from just on the right side of the area while the biggest cheer of the evening came with 10 minutes remaining.

Brad Guzan replaced Shay Given for the closing stages and the entire stadium roared its approval, Fire fans at seeing one of their own and Villa supporters at another glimpse of their returning hero.

Bannan's dipping free-kick - which flew over - was the final action of the game.

And the result meant two wins and no goals conceded from two USA games as Paul Lambert's men head for their final stop in Portland.

VILLA: Given [Guzan, 81], Herd [Lowton, HT], Lichaj [Warnock, 57], Baker [Clark, 57], Dunne [Collins, HT], Gardner [El Ahmadi, 67], Delph Yellow Card [Bannan, 67], Ireland [Johnson, 70], N'Zogbia [Carruthers, 70 Yellow Card], Agbonlahor [Delfouneso, 67], Weimann [Holman, 70]. Subs: Marshall.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 22nd July 2012
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