Aston Villa close to safety after Andreas Weimann stars in victory over Hull City
Last Updated: 03/05/14 11:49pm
Aston Villa all-but preserved their Premier League status with a 3-1 victory over FA Cup finalists Hull City.
Andreas Weimann - without a goal since January - proved Villa's hero with two headers late in the first half after a Jordan Bowery own goal had cancelled out Ashley Westwood's opening-minute effort.
- Man of the match - Andreas Weimann. It's been a frustrating season for the Austrian but confidence flowed through the striker after his two goals.
- Goal of the match: Weimann's second was a fabulous near-post header which gave Steve Harper little chance in the Hull goal.
- Save of the match: Brad Guzan was a reassuring presence throughout but his stunning save to keep out a rocket shot from Tom Huddlestone when the score was 1-1 proved crucial.
- Talking point: Liam Rosenior appeared to be a yard offside when he put the ball across for Jordan Bowery's own goal - but with Villa going on to win it proved to have little bearing on the game.
With their top flight place under threat ahead of kick-off, the Villa midfielder had given home supporters the perfect nerve-settler when he slotted into the bottom corner after great work by Gabby Agbonlahor.
The hosts were good value for their advantage until they were caught napping by Tom Huddlestone's free-kick in the 26th minute. The midfielder found Liam Rosenior who fizzed the ball across the six-yard box only to be turned into his own net by substitute Jordan Bowery, on for the unfortunate Agbonlahor.
The visitors - still needing a point themselves to be mathematically safe - then looked in control until Weimann took over on 41 minutes.
After forcing a corner with some great work down the City right, the Austrian was on hand to nod home from close range after Nathan Baker was denied twice - first by Nikica Jelavic's goal-line block then by a combination of the bar and Steve Harper's reflexes.
Then right on half-time, Weimann struck again with a wonderful near-post header from Bowery's cross which evaded Harper to send the home fans into ecstasy.
Roared on by their fans, Villa continued to press after the break with Weimann looking a continual threat until he was replaced late on to a deserved standing ovation.
Jelavic snatched at a half chance midway through the second period but Hull rarely looked like threatening to snatch a point with Brad Guzan a reassuring presence throughout as the home side climbed above Steve Bruce's side.
Manager Paul Lambert's former side Norwich will now need to score an avalanche of goals while winning their remaining games to cause any further concern for Villa fans this season.
With the Canaries away to Chelsea on Sunday and hosting Arsenal next weekend, Villa fans can safely shelve their relegation fears.
Hull, a point further back with 37, are also unlikely to be hauled in by Norwich but their three-game winless run bodes ill for their FA Cup final appearance against the Gunners on May 17.
Villa got off to the dream start as they took the lead from their first attack. Agbonlahor did the hard work, motoring past Rosenior as the pair jostled on the halfway line.
Agbonlahor then showcased the other side of his game, barging past Curtis Davies before cutting back from the left wing. Marc Albrighton fluffed his first-time finish but recovered to lay the ball across the area to Westwood, who swept home clinically.
The crowd erupted as their nervous energy gave way to raucous celebration and the home side responded by dominating the next 20 minutes.
Fabian Delph and Westwood were in complete control of the midfield, with Jake Livermore and Huddlestone chasing shadows.
Bruce responded by switching from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2, but it was an old fashioned set-piece rather than tactical tinkering that brought the equaliser.
After Livermore won a free-kick in dangerous territory, Huddlestone suckered Villa by feigning to shoot and slipping Rosenior into the left channel.
He sent the ball across the area, doing enough to panic Bowery into a messy own-goal even though there was a strong suspicion of offside.
The silence from the stands was deafening and for the next few minutes Villa seemed spooked.
Had Huddlestone's left-footed drive not been saved superbly by Guzan, things would surely have taken a turn for the worse.
Instead, Villa reclaimed the initiative in the 41st minute thanks to Weimann's close range header and the home side didn't look back once the Austrian made it safe right on half time.
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Aston Villa v Hull City
Steve Bruce has admitted it is hard to believe how far Hull City have come, but says they must improve.
James Chester is a doubt for the FA Cup final after the Hull defender hurt his hamstring in the defeat at Aston Villa.
Paul Lambert praised Villa fans as they roared his side on to a 3-1 win over Hull to banish the threat of relegation.