Match Analysis: Aston Villa 2-0 Cardiff City

Leandro Bacuna of Aston Villa is congratulated by teammates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Cardiff City at Villa Park on November 9, 2013
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Sports Mole analyses the clash between Aston Villa and Cardiff City in the Midlands.

Aston Villa scored twice in the final 15 minutes to beat Cardiff City 2-0 in the Midlands this afternoon and climb into the top half of the Premier League table.

Manager Paul Lambert was frustrated by a goalless first half during which the hosts had several chances to open the scoring but didn't due to a combination of poor finishing and good work from Bluebirds keeper David Marshall.

Leandro Bacuna's 30-yard free kick ended Villa's seven-hour wait for a top-flight goal and Libor Kozak secured his side maximum points on 84 minutes by heading into the bottom corner from close range.

Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action at Villa Park.

Match statistics:

Villa:
Shots: 17
On target: 6
Possession: 44%
Corners: 5
Fouls: 10

Cardiff:
Shots: 8
On target: 2
Possession: 56%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 3

Was the result fair?

Definitely. Villa came flying out of the blocks and probably should have scored in the opening 15 minutes. Cardiff stifled them, having the majority of the possession while never really threatened themselves, before the hosts had a second wind and grabbed a quickfire double to claim three deserved points.

Villa's performance:

They began the match very brightly, with their early pressure yielding chances for Christian Benteke, Kozak, and Karim El Ahmadi. There was a feeling that it might be another frustrating day in front of goal for the Villans when they failed to score when they were on top, but Bacuna's moment of magic changed that. At the other end, they dealt with the few problems that Cardiff caused them with relative ease, as Ron Vlaar again shone by guiding his younger defensive colleagues to their first clean sheet in 16 games.

Cardiff's performance: There was no real ambition to Cardiff's approach. Most of their passing went through Gary Medel, but it also went backwards. They were hesitant and slow when playing the ball up the pitch, and when they did, Peter Odemwingie could not hold it up or bring any of his teammates into the game. Steven Caulker had a pretty good afternoon marshalling Benteke, but neither he nor his goalkeeper could do anything about Bacuna's game-changing opening goal.

Sports Mole's man of the match:

Leandro Bacuna: This accolade could have gone to Villa's other goalscorer Kozak, who was a nuisance in the opposition box all day, but it was Bacuna's wonderful free kick that opened the door for the hosts. The Dutchman whipped his 30-yard set piece over the wall and beyond a motionless Marshall, who was previously a contender for this award before he failed to even move to attempt to save Bacuna's strike. The Villa man had previously put in a really good shift at right-back as well. He is proving to be a good acquisition.

Biggest gaffe: Medel may have thought that he was doing his team a favour when he tugged the shirt of a surging Bacuna to concede a free kick 30 yards out. In hindsight, though, there were plenty of covering defenders who were in a position to stop the Villa man, who then proceeded to punish Medel's error of judgement with a sublime set piece strike.

Referee's performance:

Martin Atkinson had a good game. His finest moment came when he correctly turned down Villa penalty appeals after Aleksandar Tonev went down under the challenge of Kevin Theophile-Catherine. It was neither a spot kick nor a dive, and Atkinson was in a perfect position to see this and wave play on.

What next?

Villa: The Villans have a big West Midlands derby after the international break when they travel to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion.

Cardiff: Bluebirds fans will be counting down the days until the Premier League season resumes, as they welcome Manchester United and Arsenal in their next two fixtures.

Leandro Bacuna of Aston Villa is congratulated by teammates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Cardiff City at Villa Park on November 9, 2013
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