Aston Villa played one of their best halves of football on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it came after a half where they conceded two goals. Tim Krul and a collective blocking effort in front of the Newcastle United net were enough to hold the home side to one goal, as the Magpies won 2-1 and grabbed their first road victory of the season.
Brand new Newcastle signing Moussa Sissoko announced his presence in emphatic fashion in the 19th minute, by finding Papiss Cisse for the opener with a beautiful assist. While Cisse was probably a hair offside for the goal, Sissoko's through ball was flawless, and the Senegalese finished it off with composure. Villa were unlucky not to score three minutes later, when Charles N'Zogbia struck the post with an excellent shot.
Yohan Cabaye piled on the misery in the 31st minute with a goal of the year candidate, hitting a perfect dipping volley to the back post, over the head of Brad Guzan. From then until the end of the first half, Villa looked truly hopeless.
At the halftime break, Paul Lambert made dramatic changes to his side, introducing Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann for Darren Bent and Joe Bennett, who were extremely ineffective. They made an immediate difference, with Agbonlahor winning a penalty in the 47th minute when he was hauled down from behind by Mathieu Debuchy. Christian Benteke stepped up and converted, opening the floodgates for Villa.
Unfortunately for the Villains, their great play didn't produce a second goal. Benteke set up Weimann with an incredible square ball in the 60th minute, but Krul came up with a stunning save. Benteke had a couple of other close misses throughout the game, which have sadly become commonplace for him this season.
Newcastle's goal was laid under siege for the remainder of the game, as they gave the ball away constantly, but Villa failed to capitalize. With Wigan's draw elsewhere, Paul Lambert's side are now down in the drop zone.