Aston Villa 5-2 Burnley

Stewart Downing scored twice as Aston Villa put a poor first-half

performance behind them to overwhelm Burnley 5-2 at Villa Park on

Sunday.

The Clarets took a shock 10th-minute lead in the Premier

League clash through Steven Fletcher and all Villa could muster

before half-time was a fortuitous equaliser from Ashley Young.

But four goals in 13 minutes after the break from Downing

(two), Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor kept Villa on course for

a Champions League spot before Martin Paterson’s late consolation.

In contrast, Burnley have now lost six of their last seven

league games.

It was just the tonic Martin O’Neill’s side needed at the

start of a massive week with an FA Cup fifth-round replay against

Crystal Palace on Wednesday and the Carling Cup final next Sunday

against Manchester United at Wembley.

Villa had only scored three goals in their previous seven

league games but still carried too much firepower for Brian Laws’

side, who remain in the bottom three.

Burnley have still only taken one point on their travels and

have now conceded 43 goals in the process.

Fit-again Agbonlahor teed up Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov

for the home side’s first chance on the edge of the box but he

dragged his shot well wide.

Then Burnley stunned Villa by taking the lead through

Fletcher’s 11th goal of the campaign.

Jack Cork’s pass allowed David Nugent to break into the Villa

box and his low centre was turned home at the far post by Fletcher,

who had managed to remain on-side.

It was Burnley’s first away league goal in 550 minutes since

Chris Eagles scored in the 5-3 defeat at West Ham on November 28.

Nugent made a powerful burst towards the Villa area and his

shot took a deflection which had goalkeeper Brad Friedel scrambling

across his line before it drifted just wide.

It was 24 minutes before Villa created their first clear-cut

opening.

Downing delivered a probing centre from the right and Heskey

flashed a glancing header only a couple of feet wide of the far

post.

Villa finally drew level after 33 minutes through Ashley

Young’s seventh goal of the campaign.

Young played a short corner to Milner, received the return

pass and then cut inside before firing a ball into the box which

clipped Daniel Fox before entering the net with Jensen unsighted.

Jensen then got his hand to a dipping shot from Ashley Young

and the rebound hit Downing but flew wide.

Burnley skipper Clarke Carlisle became the first player to be

booked after 40 minutes for a late challenge on Ashley Young.

Villa took total command after the break and went ahead in

the 56th minute after a quick break down the left involving Heskey

and Agbonlahor.

Ashley Young eventually sent over a low cross and Downing

drilled an angled shot into the corner of the net.

Three minutes later the former Middlesbrough player added

another. Jensen beat out a shot from Agbonlahor but Milner

responded quickest to the rebound, turned the ball back inside to

Downing and his shot deflected past Jensen.

Then in Villa’s next attack Heskey got on the scoresheet when

he diverted a low centre from Agbonlahor into the corner of the

net.

Burnley were now in total disarray and after 69 minutes

Agbonlahor completed Villa’s nap hand. Heskey found Milner in space

and Agbonlahor prodded the ball home despite being under pressure

from Carlisle.

Agbonlahor and Heskey left the pitch to standing ovations

when replaced by John Carew and Nathan Delfouneso respectively.

Fletcher was yellow-carded shortly afterwards for a foul on

Villa left-back Stephen Warnock.

In a rare Burnley attack Friedel dealt with a well-struck

shot from Eagles but Villa’s quickfire scoring burst had decided

the contest.

Clarets substitute Frederic Nimani was booked for deliberate

handball before Carew could have made it 6-1 but he dragged his

close-range shot wide.

In injury-time, Paterson pulled one back for Burnley from

Cork’s low centre.