Villa punished by Odemwingie late show
PETER ODEMWINGIE’S LATE strike saw West Bromwich Albion fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Aston Villa in an entertaining Midlands derby on Saturday.
Odemwingie struck from close range in the 83rd minute after Chris Brunt had started to chip away at a two-goal lead that Villa established through superb first-half goals from Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Villa coach Paul Lambert was visibly annoyed by his side’s capitulation.
The point was nonetheless enough to take Villa out of the relegation zone, as they prepare to attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final with third-tier Bradford City on Tuesday.
West Brom, meanwhile, have ended a run of three consecutive defeats, and the point secured by Odemwingie’s goal was enough to take them level on points with both Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League.
Villa recalled captain Ron Vlaar following a two-month absence due to a calf injury but they received an early setback in the fifth minute at the Hawthorns when Nathan Baker had to go off with an apparent hamstring problem.
However, the visitors had started brightly and in the 12th minute they went ahead with a fine goal from Benteke.
The burly Belgian received the ball with his back to goal near the left-hand apex of the West Brom area and turned away from a defender before lashing a wonderful strike past Ben Foster from 22 yards.
In response, West Brom top scorer Romelu Lukaku had a hooked volley fielded by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, before Villa doubled their lead through a brilliantly constructed goal.
A slick team move saw the ball worked to Charles N’Zogbia on the right and from his pass, Agbonlahor stole past Gareth McAuley before sliding a left-foot shot into the bottom-right corner.
Eric Lichaj spurned a chance to make it 3-0 and boos from the home fans greeted the half-time whistle, but Steve Clarke’s men raised their game in the second half and within four minutes of the restart they had halved the arrears.
Odemwingie made ground down the left before squaring the ball for Lukaku, whose intelligent lay-off allowed Brunt to score with a side-foot shot that kissed the left-hand upright on its way into the net.
Foster had to deny Agbonlahor after a Villa break but West Brom continued to press and in the 67th minute Odemwingie evaded Guzan on the edge of the visitors’ area, only to lift his shot well over the vacant goal.
Odemwingie refused to be cowed, however, and in the 83rd minute he volleyed home McAuley’s knock-down to give the Baggies a share of the spoils and leave Lambert wondering what might have been.