Aston Villa’s unbeaten start to the Barclays Premier League season continued as goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann secured a 2-1 win against Hull at Villa Park.
Villa had the look of a crisis club towards the end of the 2013-14 campaign, with manager Paul Lambert under intense pressure, owner Randy Lerner trying to sell the club and internal discord rife, but seven points from a possible nine paints a rosier picture this time around.
Villa had to settle for a 2-1 victory but should really have enjoyed a more handsome scoreline, dominating first-half proceedings completely with neat finishes from Agbonlahor and Weimann sandwiched by shots against the woodwork from Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood.
Hull were abject in those 45 minutes, arguably as bad as they have been since their return to the top flight, but tightened up after the interval and found a lifeline when Nikica Jelavic’s 72nd-minute header was turned home by Villa full-back Aly Cissokho.
Both sides had been responding to midweek setbacks, Paul Lambert’s side beaten by Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup and the Tigers ousted from the Europa League on away goals.
Each made seven changes from those games and there was little doubt about which side settled quicker.
Villa’s dominance began almost immediately, with just 90 seconds gone when Delph latched on to Weimann’s pass and lashed an angled shot against the outside of the near post.
That energetic start appeared to catch the visitors cold and they regressed immediately to some uncharacteristic long balls.
It was a moment to forget for the Hull debutant but another clinical reaction by Villa’s forward line.
It might easily have been three before half-time, Agbonlahor denied by McGregor’s feet and Westwood curling a free-kick against the upright with McGregor nowhere.
Hull captain Davies did not emerge for the second half, replaced by Liam Rosenior to force a change of shape to four at the back.
Ten minutes later and with no sign of a change in momentum, Steve Bruce made his second change.
This time Tom Ince, nearly anonymous in his attempts to link midfield and attack, gave way for Robbie Brady, fresh from two goals against Lokeren on Thursday.
Lambert’s first change came soon after, Carlos Sanchez on for N’Zogbia, and if the substitutions were contributing to an increasingly disjointed feeling then it hardly mattered to the side with a two-goal cushion.