The phrase “Aston Villa lead” has been heard just once this season, and surprisingly enough it wasn’t Christian Benteke behind it. This time it was new signing Libor Kozak at the finish.
To this point, the match has seen a Norwich missed penalty – a near miss by Benteke, and a substitution. So it’s no surprise Andreas Weimann was allowed to make a storming run down the left, seeing loads of space ahead of him. Not pressured by any defense, Weimann just picks his head up to see both Gabby Agbonlahor making runs into wide open space.
Earlier in the match Gabby Agbonlahor had centered himself into the pitch and linked up with Christian Benteke for a chance. This time, he makes the run from the center of the pitch to the left drawing Turner with him and creating space for the Austrian to make a deep run. Weimann notices it, and gets the ball ahead.
This goal wasn’t that easy, though. Kozak has his shot saved by John Ruddy but out pops a rebound to his right. Agbonlahor does a great job of staying with the play and attacks the rebound.
Throughout this season, I’ve had nothing but praise for Agbonlahor, and plays like these are exactly why. He shows fantastic awareness, and extreme selflessness. Instead of running at this rebound and whipping the ball at Ruddy for another chance, he takes a touch toward goal before feeding the ball to Kozak in the middle. That one does two things: 1) It gives Kozak the time to reset himself and create space in front of the goal, and 2) it draws the eyes of the remaining Norwich personnel – Sebastien Bassong and Ruddy – towards him. Due to Agbonlahor, Kozak is now left to his own with two-thirds of the goal left wide open.
Bassong closes Kozak down during the pass, but Kozak calmly gets to the ball and nets it into the right corner. It’s a broken play for Norwich’s defense – but it’s fantastic desire from both Agbonlahor and Kozak to stay with the play. Kozak may have missed under pressure once, but not again – and this time he punishes Norwich for their mistakes.
The stats concur; showing that nearly all of Aston Villa’s successful attacking passes came from that left-handed side – the same area that Agbonlahor was roaming in and that Weimann was given the space to push up the pitch. It was only a matter of time before an attacker found space in behind the defense.
Some might say Norwich’s defense scored this goal. They left space for Weimann to run and make the pass to Kozak, gave up a rebound, and couldn’t win the ball back. I would argue that instead it’s Aston Villa who did everything right on this goal.