Ciaran Clark among the goalscorers as Aston Villa edge Leicester City

Villa are now five games unbeaten following the comeback victory at home on Sunday

It has been a long time coming – and in more ways than one. Alan Hutton's first goal in four years, and Aston Villa's first in the Premier League in front of the Holte End since April – what an incredible statistic – settled a tempestuous Midlands derby that saw Paul Konchesky sent off and Ashley Westwood taken off on a stretcher with a potentially serious knee injury.

Hutton, who was frozen out at Villa this time last year, proved an unlikely matchwinner on an afternoon when Craig Pawson showed seven yellow cards and one red. It was a game that Villa deserved to win on the balance of play, although Hutton could count himself fortunate not to follow Konchesky down the tunnel following the flashpoint that led to the Leicester left-back being dismissed. Both players were nose to nose with arms raised and it was something of a mystery as to why Pawson, the referee, showed Hutton only a yellow card.


Behind to Leonardo Ulloa’s 13th minute goal, Villa quickly responded through Ciaran Clark’s header and looked the more accomplished side for long periods, with Benteke causing plenty of problems up front. With two wins in the space of six days, Villa are now up to 11th in the table. There is, however, no respite for Leicester, who remained anchored to the bottom of the Premier League and without a victory in 10 matches, since that remarkable 5-3 triumph over Manchester United in September.


There had been a sense just before half-time that things might spill over here. The tipping point was a scissors tackle from behind by Jamie Vardy that left Westwood in a heap. Vardy was booked. On another day it could easily have been a red card for the Leicester striker.


Emotions were running high, the temperature of the game had been raised and it was no real surprise that there was another incident minutes later. Ulloa was charging down the right flank for a ball that Clark was always favourite to get to first. The Villa defender took the ball and the man. Ulloa limped off, came back on but failed to return for the start of the second half.

Those two players had both made their mark on the game in another way earlier on. It was Ulloa’s goal - his first in 10 games - after a poor mistake by Brad Guzan, that gave Leicester the lead in the 13th minute, moments after Benteke had flashed a volley inches past the upright at the other end.

Riyad Mahrez cut inside Aly Cissokho – who looks much more assured going forward than he does when defending - glided across the edge of the penalty area and hit a left-footed shot that took a slight deflection off Clark. Even allowing for that, Guzan will be bitterly disappointed that he did no more than push the ball into the path of Ulloa, who had the simple task of tapping home. “There’s only one Nigel Pearson” chanted the travelling supporters.

Ciaran Clark

Four minutes later it was the Villa fans celebrating. Westwood floated a free-kick into the Leicester area, where Liam Moore was too busy trying to tell his team-mates to keep a high line that he forgot about marking Clark. By the time Moore switched back on it was too late, Clark was away from him and steered a fine header beyond Kasper Schmeichel.

The Leicester goalkeeper was exposed again early in the second half, after Kieran Richardson, Westwood's replacement, set Benteke free. A goal beckoned but Schmeichel, to his credit, was quick off his line and spread himself well to deflect Benteke's shot behind. Leicester's threat was sporadic, although they did come close to a second when David Nugent, on for Ulloa, struck a dipping volley from wide on the left that Guzan spectacularly tipped over.

Holding on

Villa, however, always looked the more likely to score again and so it proved in the 71st minute. Gabriel Agbonlahor broke away on the left and moved the ball onto Benteke, who spotted Hutton in space on the other side of the pitch and switched play superbly. With no Leicester defender near him, Hutton took the ball down on his chest before volleying inside Schmeichel's near post. Then came that ugly incident close to the touchline, when Hutton and Konchesky squared up. Down to 10 men, Leicester never gave up and in the 90th minute Chris Wood drilled inches wide.