July 21, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
Fire drop 1-0 decision to Aston Villa FC
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Aston Villa FC outplayed the Chicago Fire Saturday night, earning a convincing 1-0 win on a steamy night in Chicagoland.
|Rafael Robayo had one of the Fire's rare scoring chances against Aston Villa.
Linda Cuttone /Sports Vue Images
Aston Villa made some noise early in the match, with players running toward goal. Stephen Ireland shot the ball just wide left in the 13th minute. Soon after, Downers Grove native Eric Lichaj sprinted down the pitch, with Fire defenders shutting down his teammates.
The Fire had trouble creating any kind of offense Saturday night against Aston Villa. It took 20 minutes for the Fire to make it into their attacking third, but Aston Villa defenders kept the ball out of harm's way.
Gabriel Agbonlahor blasted an attempt at goal in the 26th minute. Fire goalkeeper Jay Nolly punched it out of danger, for an AV corner kick.
The Fire created some space in the 28th minute, with Corben Bone running down the pitch. Bone passed the ball to Fire forward Marco Pappa who had the ball stripped away by defenders.
The visitors took the lead one minute later. Chris Herd sent the ball into the box. Agbonlahor jumped up and headed it just inside the right post for a 1-0 advantage.
Aston Villa had no trouble breaking down the Fire's defense. Gary Gardner sent the ball just wide left in the 38th minute, past a diving Nolly. The corner kick was bent right into the box, where Nolly jumped up and grabbed it. Gardner struck again in the 40th minute, with his ball rolling wide left again.
Rafael Robayo rocketed the ball over the goal in the 43rd minute, for the Fire's best opportunity in the first half.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Aston Villa's Agbonlahor landed wrong, hitting the pitch in pain. He was carted off the field on a stretcher.
Chicago used the second half as an opportunity for the majority of the bench to get some playing time, including goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi who replaced Nolly in the 46th minute.
Homer Glen native Brad Guzan entered the match in the 79th minute. Guzan, who recently signed a three-year extension with Aston Villa, helped keep Shay Given's clean sheet intact.
Chicago had one last corner kick rally in the 89th minute, but again it was silenced by the visiting team. Three minutes of injury time were added on. Aston Villa pushed forward, forcing a Fire handball outside the box. Barry Bannan lined up just behind the box, and lifted the ball over the goal.
Two yellow cards were issued to Aston Villa players, giving the Fire one final opportunity. But Guzan stood strong in goal.
The Fire falls to 6-11-3 in international friendlies. Chicago is back in action Saturday, July 28th at the San Jose Earthquakes.
Aston Villa holds on to its perfect 2-0 record during its U.S. tour, posting 1-0 wins over Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire. They complete their tour on Tuesday at the Portland Timbers.