Calamitous Clarets crushed by Villa
The Clarets had silenced Villa Park by scoring a well-worked 10th-minute opener through Steven Fletcher, but once Ashley Young netted a fortunate equaliser just after the half-hour mark, there was no halting them and second-half strikes through Stewart Downing (56, 58), Emile Heskey (61) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (68) earned them a comprehensive win. Burnley stunned Villa by taking the lead after 10 minutes through Fletcher's 11th goal of the campaign. David Nugent broke into the Villa box and his low centre was turned home at the far post by the Scotsman, who did well to remain onside. 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. Villa were struggling to get going and when Heskey headed just wide of the far post, it seemed it wasn't going to be their day. But lacklustre Villa finally drew level after 33 minutes through Young's seventh goal of the campaign. Young played a short corner to James 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 Brian Jensen unsighted. The goal appeared to galvanise Villa and they came out for the second half in a determined mood. It wasn't long before they took the lead with Downing slotting in his first goal for the club on 56 minutes, the midfielder turning the ball home in-off the post with his right foot. And the England star didn't have long to wait for his second as just two minutes later he was celebrating again when his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection en-route to goal to leave Jensen flat-footed. Villa scored their third goal in six minutes when Young again broke down the left and his precise ball into the box was steered into the corner by Heskey. And on 68 minutes, Villa bagged their fourth goal in 12 minutes when a smart move saw Milner cross to the near post and Agbonlahor stole a march on the Clarets defence to tap in from three yards. Martin Paterson's tap-in in stoppage time following Jack Cork's fine cross served as nothing more than scant consolation. The win temporarily lifts Villa back up to fourth and firmly back in the hunt for a top-four finish, while the Clarets remains firmly entrenched in the bottom three in 19th place.